Sweat and Misery at the “Aliens Police” by Peter Barrer

17/07/2012 13:00

How much do I really want to stay here? This thought sometimes runs through the minds of foreign nationals living in Slovakia, even committed Slovakophiles like me. This has nothing to do with any unfriendliness on an everyday level; Slovaks are after all a pretty friendly bunch. This thought is rather sparked by the institutionalised misery that is dealing with the Aliens Police in Bratislava.

 

Every year or two, third-country nationals like me have to renew their temporary residence permits, which involves collecting documents relating to one’s job and one’s living arrangements, all notarised, along with some ID photos and the processing fee in payment stamps. Then we visit a former kindergarten in the heart of Petržalka to submit the papers at the Aliens Police’s “Contact Center for Public”, its previous name (“Public Relations Office”) now having been rather accurately replaced with a term a little less suggestive of customer service.  

 

However, little contact actually takes place. Those who have dealt with the Aliens Police know that in order to be seen at all, you have to arrive early or be accompanied by a local who is conversant in the ways of gleaning preferential treatment. Others must stand in line, take a number and wait. I arrived before opening hours at 7:15 am, parked my bike on the jungle gym thoughtfully provided in the yard (as I said, it was once a kindergarten), and stood in a line stretching back to the gate. More people here than last year, maybe 200? It seems Slovakia is becoming a more popular destination, though after this brush with officialdom, one has to wonder why. 

 

After half an hour of queuing I got my ticket, which advised me that my number was 133, of which 53 were third-country nationals. Not too bad, I guess, how long can it take? After all, they had three specialised desks for third-country nationals in operation. Well, apparently. With no time indication on the ticket, it is a matter of guesswork of when your number comes up. So, I left and came back, left again, had lunch and came back once more, to be finally seen just before 2 pm. Some others had presumably stayed the whole time, either sweating it out in the austere waiting area or out in the sun, not a food or coffee cart in sight. Just weeds, the trusty jungle gym and a bit of litter.

 

My interaction with the police officer as they leafed through my file, which after three years now resembled a phone book, went something like this:

- Here are all the papers, all notarised, for my application.

- We can’t accept this (a rental contract extension for my flat).

- Why not? You did last year.

- The law has changed. You need to submit the flat ownership document and an honorary declaration from your landlord stating he really is providing you accommodation while you are in Slovakia.

- But I gave you the flat ownership document last year.

- We need another copy.

- Why?

- Because it has to be less than 90 days old.

- But nothing’s changed. I have the same job and live in the same place, and my landlord is still the owner.

 

At least I could send in the missing documentation by post. Another visit to the Aliens Police in the near future would have likely damaged my mental wellbeing. As it was, I had to wait another 30 minutes to be photographed and fingerprinted before finally leaving.

 

There are two extreme aspects of dealing with the Aliens Police that are worth discussing. Firstly, they are only open to the public three days a week (two full days and two half days – one of which is only for the issuing of IDs). They have the rest of the working week to assess and administer residence permit applications. Why then are the Aliens Police so incredibly slow? They are certainly not rushed off their feet; after all, Slovakia has very few immigrants (a little over 1 percent of the total population). Secondly, Slovak officialdom’s fetish for copious amounts of stamped paperwork serves no good purpose. If they are so fascinated about whether I actually do live in the flat I rent, they can come round for coffee. I invite them to do so. (However, knowing them, they would probably turn up unannounced during the working week when no one is at home.)

 

I have a right to complain. I pay taxes in Slovakia and as such I indirectly contribute to the “thoroughly deserved” special retirement package Aliens Police personnel may receive after only 15 years of service: a remarkable reward for shuffling papers. I may be a third-country national, but that does not make me worthy of third-class treatment. We deserve better. Immigrants are a productive part of the Slovak population: we do not “steal” jobs from Slovaks and we are not a drain on Slovakia’s social services. We positively contribute to society both professionally and culturally. A more welcoming approach from the Aliens Police is needed. In New Zealand, the equivalent organisation is an “immigration service”. It is run by civilians and it offers a service to its clients. Maybe the Aliens Police should take a leaf out of their book. At the moment, it seems they are reading the immigration manual from North Korea.   

 

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Date: 16/11/2013

By: Annie

Subject: God please help Alex!

Yesterday, 15-th November in 11 am. My friend went in police department (Aliens police department in Petrzalka, Bratislava)
His visit must be short- he was need just receive ID card –the 7-th November director Martin Hudolik promised that card will be ready..so just come and bring with you 24.5 euros kolki
But in 13-00 my friends phone was not working.. so i keep calling him min time reached computer and found internet site of American Embassy.
Nobody in Embassy didn’t know nothing about any American who was detained or arrested in any police department in Bratislava. They also let us know that police must report about such cases in Embassies countries which citizen they detained.
In 8.40 pm tired looking for him and without any hope we called in police department which he visited in the morning-just to know when he left this place. Police officer which was on phone with us told that “Yes we have one American. But I won’t tell you nothing more”.
We immediately contacted American Embassy and make them surprised. Because they still didn’t have any information about his arrest.
More than 5 hours from the moment when we called Embassy first time and more than 8 hours since the moment than he was arrested!!! Police forgot report about American citizen??!!
In 21-10 we already knew that he is alive and he is in police department but we still wasn’t able to talk with him and to know what happened.
About 2.15 am (!!) his phone was turn on and we received sms that number available again.
We called and Alex told that police moving him in another location,
that he still didn’t meet advocate and they didn’t want to give him his phone, instead they took away phone and checked all contacts.
He also told that police claim that he attacked police officer – but in reality he didn’t
when he came to pick up ID card – card was still not ready and when Alex turn around and wanted walk away 3 officers invited him in the room to talk with director. Director and a few more officers was in the room but instead of talking they surround him and said that they are witnesses and 7 officers will tell that my friend attacked police.


Lets imagine for a moment that he is such type of person who really will do it… when
Why Alex asking about contacting embassy and police keep repeat that they did it in 13pm (15th November)?,
Why they keep him in Aliens police if must move from the beginning in common police department (which handling criminal cases)?
Why they checked contacts on his mobile?
Why he doesn’t have advocate and right to make phone call to let his relatives and friends know what was happened?

When I talk with my friend I asked him simple question : Alex did you do something wrong? Did you at least try to push officers when they surround you?
And the answer was “NO. I Didn’t”

Everybody who knows him will tell that Alex is very honest man…
But police doesn’t look in all this story good
So. Who should we trust..?


Now is Saturday night (16th November) and he still in police department- according to the law Slovak police has 48 hours to make investigation, what will be than nobody knows.


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