Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic of approximately two million persons. Power is shared between a directly elected president (head of state), a prime minister (head of government), and a bicameral parliament, composed of the National Assembly (lower house) and the National Council (upper house). In October 2004 the country held free and fair multiparty elections for seats in the National Assembly. The civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the security forces.
The government generally respected the human rights of its citizens; however, there were problems in some areas. The following human rights problems were reported:
RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS
Section 1 Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom From:
a. Arbitrary or Unlawful Deprivation of Life
There were no reports that the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
c. Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment
The law prohibits such practices; however, police occasionally used excessive force such as kicks, punches, and shoves during arrest. Societal violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation was reported (see section 5).
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
Prison conditions generally met international standards, and the government permitted visits by independent human rights observers.
d. Arbitrary Arrest or Detention
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
Role of the Police and Security Apparatus
Police are centrally organized under the supervision of the police and security bureau of the Ministry of Interior (MOI). The bureau oversees the drafting of basic guidelines, security policy, and regulations governing the work of the police and exercises special inspectorial authority in monitoring police performance, with an emphasis on the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms. The general police administration, headed by the general director of the police, has overall responsibility for the execution of police duties and oversees activities at the national level. Regional police duties fall under the jurisdiction of police administration units, whose directors report to the general director. Local policing is provided by individual police stations, whose commanders report to the director of the relevant police administration. The police provided effective law enforcement.
During the year the independent commission for the prevention of corruption received 65 credible reports of police corruption, of which 46 were referred to the police for further investigation and 2 were referred directly to the state prosecutor. There were no prosecutions, trials, or dismissals based on the reports by year's end. Of the nine cases reported in 2004: police filed two indictments, one of which was rejected by the state prosecutor's office, and reported one to the state prosecutor's office for further investigation; one case was dismissed for exceeding the statute of limitations; four cases were pending with the police; and one case was still pending with the commission.
Arrest and Detention
Persons taken into police custody were generally apprehended openly with evidential warrants issued by either a prosecutor or judge. Persons can be detained for 48 hours before charges are brought. Authorities must also advise detainees in writing within 48 hours of the reasons for their arrest. Upon arrest, detainees have the right to contact legal counsel of their choice, and authorities generally respected this right in practice, although the deputy ombudsman for human rights reported a few cases in which several days passed before police provided counsel to the detainee. The government provides indigent detainees with free counsel, and detainees were generally allowed prompt access to family members. The law also provides safeguards against self-incrimination.
On August 26, police officers in Koper arbitrarily arrested and detained an individual without informing her of her rights or the charges. The detainee claimed that police treated her inappropriately. A complaint filed with the Koper police was being investigated at year's end.
There were no reports of political detainees.
Once charges are brought, pretrial detention may last for up to four months, depending on the severity of the criminal act, and must be certified by an investigative judge. Once trial procedures have begun, the total period of detention may be extended for up to two years. Persons detained more than two years while awaiting trial or while their trial is ongoing must be released pending conclusion of their trial (see section 1.e.). Lengthy pretrial detention was not a widespread problem, and defendants generally were released on bail, except in the most serious criminal cases.
e. Denial of Fair Public Trial
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected this provision in practice. Court backlogs sometimes resulted in lengthy trials.
The judicial system consists of district courts, regional courts, courts of appeals, an administrative court, and the Supreme Court. The local and district courts serve as courts of first instance, whose decisions may be appealed to the courts of appeal. The Supreme Court hears appeals of rulings by the courts of appeal. A labor court and an administrative court hear cases within their substantive areas of jurisdiction. A nine‑member constitutional court rules on the constitutionality of legislation, treaties, and international agreements and is the highest level of appeal for administrative procedures. Judges, elected by the National Assembly upon the nomination of the judicial council, are constitutionally independent. The judicial council is composed of six sitting judges elected by their peers and five presidential nominees elected by parliament.
Trials are generally public and are conducted by jury; however, judges may decide to close trials to the public when the defendant is a juvenile or details of the personal life of the accused may be disclosed. Defendants have the right to be present during the trial and to consult with their attorney in a timely manner. An attorney is provided at public expense only if the defendant faces serious criminal charges. Defendants may confront witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have a right of appeal.
The judicial system was overburdened and lacked administrative support; as a result, the judicial process frequently was protracted. In many cases during the year, criminal trials lasted from two to five years.
There were no reports of political prisoners.
f. Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or Correspondence
The law prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.
Section 2 Respect for Civil Liberties, Including
a. Freedom of Speech and Press
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice; however, there were reports of indirect government influence on the media.
The media were active and independent but did not express a broad range of political views. The major print media were supported through private investment and advertising; however, the government owned substantial stock in many companies that were shareholders in the major media houses. Three of the six national television channels were part of the government‑subsidized RTV Slovenia network.
On August 31, the district court in Murska Sobota acquitted the five persons accused of participating in the 2001 attempted murder of investigative journalist Miro Petek.
There were reports that partial government ownership of media companies resulted in self-censorship in certain media outlets. In October parliament passed a law regarding national radio and television that provides increased government and parliamentary representation on the boards that directly oversee the public radio and television network. Managers reportedly protected their own economic and political interests and the interests of those in government with whom they were affiliated.
There were no government restrictions on the Internet or academic freedom.
b. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association
The law provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. The law prohibits groups from registering if "with its activity directs to illegal destruction of the Constitutional order, directs to execution of criminal acts and encouraging to national, racial, religious and other intolerance and spreads national, racial, religious and other hatred and intolerance or encourage into violence and war."
c. Freedom of Religion
The law provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice.
Religious communities must register with the government's office for religious communities if they wish to be legal entities, and registration entitles such groups to value-added tax rebates. During the year the office processed the two applications that had been outstanding at the end of 2004.
While there are no governmental restrictions on the Muslim community's freedom of worship, services commonly were held in private homes for lack of a larger venue. At year's end the Islamic community had selected a plot of land on which to construct a mosque in the capital Ljubljana; however, a denationalization claim by the Catholic Church delayed the sale of the land by the municipality.
Societal Abuses and Discrimination
The Jewish community in the country was very small. Jewish community representatives reported some prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes of Jews propagated within society. There were no reports of anti-Semitic violence or overt discrimination.
Police did not detain anyone in the October 2004 grave desecration incident.
The government promoted antibias and tolerance education in the primary and secondary school curricula, with the Holocaust as a mandatory topic in the contemporary history curriculum.
For a more detailed discussion, see the 2005 International Religious Freedom Report.
d. Freedom of Movement within the Country, Foreign Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation
The law provides for these rights, and the government generally respected them in practice. The law prohibits forced exile, and the government did not employ it.
The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees. In practice the government provided some protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where they feared persecution. The government granted refugee status or asylum.
During the year the government did not provide temporary protection to persons who may not have qualified as refugees under the 1951 convention.
The government cooperated with the office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
Expedited procedures prevented some asylum seekers from receiving a thorough review. Lack of personnel and funding, and the decision by the Supreme Court to allow "manifestly unfounded" applications to be denied without thorough review, resulted in hasty determinations of the validity of asylum applications. The law provides asylum seekers with the right to appeal decisions on their applications, but many asylum seekers were not informed of this right. The independent ombudsman for human rights and several nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) reported that the government put excessive restrictions on refugees' freedom of movement by requiring asylum seekers to sign a statement renouncing their claim to asylum if they left the premises of the asylum center.
Section 3 Respect for Political Rights: The Right of Citizens to Change Their Government
The law provides citizens the right to change their government peacefully, and citizens exercised this right in practice through periodic, free, and fair elections held on the basis of universal suffrage.
Elections and Political Participation
In October 2004 the country held free and fair elections for seats in the National Assembly.
There were 14 women in the 90-seat National Assembly and 3 women in the 40-seat National Council. There was 1 woman in the 17‑member cabinet.
There were 2 members of minorities in the 90-seat National Assembly and none in the 40-seat National Council or in the cabinet. The constitution provides the "autochthonous" (indigenous) Italian and Hungarian minorities the right, as a community, to have at least one representative in the parliament. However, the law does not provide any other minority group, autochthonous or otherwise, the right to be represented as a community in parliament.
Twenty distinct Romani communities, each designated autochthonous at the local level, are entitled to a seat on their local municipal councils. At year's end one municipality (Grosuplje) was not in compliance with this law. Although both the government office of nationalities and the Romani community submitted proposals to freeze the municipality's budget until it complies with the law, at year's end no action had been taken to do so.
Government Corruption and Transparency
Corruption was perceived by the public to be a widespread problem. The independent commission for the prevention of corruption reported 65 reports of corruption during the year: 4 within the executive branch of government, 3 within the judiciary, and 23 within local municipalities. The remaining cases did not involve government officials. The commission issued guidance for developing codes of conduct that included provisions on dealing with conflicts of interest; issued regulations for dealing with official gifts; issued 33 expert opinions evaluating specific cases based on anticorruption principles; developed a draft code of conduct for employees in public sector agencies; drafted a new law to prevent corruption; developed and adopted an action plan for implementing this law; organized and provided lectures on corruption for 212 officials and public servants; and organized 5 conferences on executing integrity plans. The commission designed and distributed the financial disclosure forms mandated by a December 2004 law, which requires all parliamentarians, mayors, municipal council members, ministers, and state secretaries to update them annually and append their tax returns. The commission played an active role in educating the public and civil servants about corruption; however, it had neither adequate staff nor adequate funding to fulfill its mandate. During the year the government announced its intention to abolish it and transfer oversight responsibilities to the parliament.
During the year the commission forwarded 46 suspected cases of corruption to police, who issued 18 criminal indictments.
The law provides for free public access to all government information, and the government provided access for citizens and noncitizens alike, including foreign media. The government may deny public access only to classified information, personal data protected by privacy laws, and other narrowly defined exceptions.
Section 4 Governmental Attitude Regarding International and Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations of Human Rights
A number of domestic and international human rights groups generally operated without government restriction, investigating and publishing their findings on human rights cases. Government officials generally were cooperative and responsive to their views.
Section 5 Discrimination, Societal Abuses, and Trafficking in Persons
The law prohibits discrimination based on race, gender, disability, language, or social status, and the government generally enforced these provisions in practice. However, violence against women and children, trafficking in persons, and discrimination against homosexuals and Roma were problems.
Violence against women, including spousal abuse, occurred often and was generally underreported. Although domestic violence was not specifically prohibited under the law, it could be prosecuted under statutes criminalizing assault and providing for penalties of up to five year's imprisonment. SOS Phone, an NGO that provided anonymous emergency counseling and services to domestic violence victims, received thousands of calls during the year. SOS Phone estimated that 20 percent of women had experienced domestic violence. On July 25, the United Nations Human Rights Committee announced its concern about the high rate of domestic violence and the lack of specific legal provisions and government programs to address the problem. The government partially funded 11 shelters for battered women, which operated at capacity (170 total beds, including 74 for women and 96 for children) and was forced to turn away numerous victims. When police received reports of spousal abuse or violence, they generally intervened and prosecuted offenders. The NGOs SOS Phone and Kljuc provided hot lines. The police academy offered training on domestic violence.
Rape, including spousal rape, is illegal; however, it was a problem. Spousal rape, in particular, was rarely reported. In 2004 Amnesty International estimated that one in seven women was raped during her lifetime but that only 5 percent sought assistance or counseling. Police actively investigated reports of rape and prosecuted offenders. The penalty for rape was one to ten years in prison. During the year there were 33 indictments for rape, 11 indictments for sexual violence, and 9 indictments for sexual abuse of the weak. Police conducted several public awareness campaigns to familiarize society with the problems of rape and domestic violence.
Prostitution is illegal, but the government did not actively enforce this prohibition. Antitrafficking authorities and NGOs informally estimated that as many as 80 bars and clubs across the country could be engaged in facilitating or promoting prostitution.
Trafficking in women for the purpose of sexual exploitation was a problem (see section 5, Trafficking).
The law does not explicitly prohibit sexual harassment; however, it may be prosecuted under the law that prohibits sexual abuse. Sexual harassment remained a widespread problem.
The law provides for equal rights for women, and there was no official discrimination against women in family law, property law, or the judicial system. The office of equal opportunities protects the legal rights of women. Although both sexes had the same average period of unemployment, women frequently held lower paying jobs. On average, women's earnings were 90 percent of those of men.
The government was committed to protecting children's rights and welfare.
The government provides compulsory, free, and universal education for children through grade nine and up to four additional years of free, voluntary secondary school education. The Ministry of Education reported an attendance rate of nearly 100 percent of school‑age children, with most children completing secondary school. The government provided universal health care for all citizens, including children.
A number of Roma also reported that their children attended segregated classes and were selected by authorities in disproportionate numbers to attend classes for students with special needs. In July 2004 the government provided funding for a regional program to desegregate and expand Romani education by training Romani educational facilitators and creating special enrichment programs in public kindergartens. Other school districts hired Romani facilitators at their own initiative and expense. The government has not developed a bilingual curriculum for Roma on the grounds that there is not a standardized Romani language. However, the government has funded research into codification of the language.
Child abuse was a problem. During the year there were 84 indictments for sexual abuse of a child under the age of 15. The law provides special protection for children from exploitation and mistreatment, and the government generally enforced the law in practice. The law was amended in 2004 to criminalize the sale, purchase, and propagation of child pornography. During the year the ombudsman for human rights organized an extensive information campaign to highlight the problem of child abuse. Social workers visited schools regularly to monitor any incidents of mistreatment or abuse of children.
Child marriage occurred within the Romani community; however, it was not a widespread problem.
Trafficking in girls for the purpose of sexual exploitation was a problem (see section 5, Trafficking).
Trafficking in Persons
The law prohibits trafficking in persons; however, there were reports that persons were trafficked to, from, and within the country.
Penalties for trafficking range from 1 to 10 years' imprisonment. Persons can also be prosecuted for rape, pimping, procurement of sexual acts, inducement to prostitution, sexual assault, and other related offenses. During the year there were 2 indictments for trafficking, 5 for pimping, and 11 for assisting prostitution. Trials in the two trafficking cases were ongoing at year's end. Government efforts to apprehend traffickers were more effective than in past years due to the implementation of a 2004 law that criminalizes trafficking, but victims received less support due to inadequate funding for the country's sole antitrafficking NGO. Police and prosecutors began using the new law to investigate and prosecute traffickers. Regional police directorates had departments that investigated trafficking and organized crime. An inter-ministerial working group was responsible for developing the government's antitrafficking strategy.
The government actively cooperated with the NGO Mirage 2004 and Interpol by sharing information about traffickers and patterns of illegal migration. Police training was conducted during the year to improve officers' awareness of trafficking laws. One prosecutor in each regional state prosecution office was dedicated for trafficking cases.
Of the 5 cases of forced slavery filed in 2004 against 12 individuals, 2 resulted in criminal investigations and the remaining 3 continued to be investigated at year's end. All trials were ongoing at year's end.
The country was primarily a point of transit, and secondarily a destination, for women and teenage girls trafficked from Southeastern, Eastern, and Central Europe to Western Europe and North America. Trafficking in persons through the country was a significant problem. Victims were trafficked primarily for purposes of sexual exploitation. Those at particular risk of being trafficked were teenage girls and young women who lived in impoverished areas with high unemployment. Traffickers reportedly subjected some trafficking victims to violence in the form of beating and kicking.
Organized criminal groups, nightclub owners, and local pimps were primarily responsible for trafficking. A 2003 study by the International Organization for Migration reported that traffickers lured victims from Eastern Europe and the Balkan countries through advertisements promising high wages, offers of marriage, offers of employment as entertainers and dancers, and offers of employment without indication that it would involve the sex industry. Harsh conditions in some women's home countries also contributed to their willingness to enter into prostitution and lack of awareness that they might become trafficking victims or be subjected to severe conditions.
In November parliament adopted a law on the protection of witnesses in order to prosecute trafficking cases more effectively. In general authorities did not treat trafficking victims as criminals; however, they usually were voluntarily returned to their home country either immediately upon presenting themselves to authorities or following their testimony in court. The UNHCR reported that asylum caseworkers paid insufficient attention to identifying victims of human trafficking.
The government's national coordinator for trafficking in persons served as the head of the interagency working group on trafficking in persons, which is responsible for the government's long-term national strategy to combat trafficking. The working group, which included representatives of different ministries, NGOs, international organizations, and the media, established standard operating procedures for first responders to ensure that victims receive information about the options and assistance available to them. The group met four times during the year despite nearly five months of inactivity resulting from conflict of interest allegations against the head of the NGO Kljuc, which is the government's implementing partner for antitrafficking efforts.
Kljuc, the country's sole NGO providing support to trafficking victims, organized a 3-day training for 13 prosecutors. Due to a government budgeting impasse for part of the year, Kljuc was forced to close its safe house and reported turning away 12 victims during the year.
The project against trafficking and sex- and gender‑based violence (PATS) provided information and assistance to the asylum seekers at greatest risk of being trafficked, especially single women and children separated from their parents. Key elements of the project included information about where potential victims could access assistance, access to specialized assistance and protection for victims identified in the asylum procedures, and access to asylum procedures for identified trafficking victims. All at-risk asylum seekers receive a book containing trafficking information and assistance contacts throughout Europe. The project was jointly administered by the asylum section of the Ministry of Interior, two local NGOs (Kljuc and Slovenksa Filantropija), and the UNHCR.
Persons with Disabilities
The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical and mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, or the provision of other government services, and the government generally enforced these provisions in practice. The law mandates access to buildings for persons with disabilities, and modifications of public and private structures to ease access by these persons continued, although at a slow pace. However, most buildings were not accessible in practice. The Ministry for Labor, Family, and Social Affairs has primary responsibility for protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. On December 20, the Ministry for Labor, Family, and Social Affairs set minimum quotas for disabled employees in public and private sector jobs. The quota in the public and non‑commercial sector was 2 percent, and in private industry it was 6 percent.
According to the 2002 census, minorities made up approximately 17 percent of the population and included approximately 36 thousand Croats, 39 thousand Serbs, 22 thousand Bosniaks (Bosnian Muslims), 10 thousand Muslims, 6 thousand Hungarians, 6 thousand Albanians, 3 thousand Roma, and 2 thousand Italians.
The law provides special rights and protections to autochthonous Italian and Hungarian minorities, including the right to use their own national symbols and have bilingual education and the right for each to be represented as a community in parliament (see section 3). The Romani minority does not have comparable special rights and protections. The constitution provides that "the status and special rights of Gypsy communities living in Slovenia shall be such as are determined by statute." By year's end parliament had not enacted laws to establish such rights for the Romani community.
In a 2003 report, the committee on the elimination of racial discrimination expressed concern that discriminatory attitudes and practices against the Roma persisted and that the distinction between "indigenous" Roma and "new" Roma could give rise to new discrimination. Ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovar Albanians, and Roma from Kosovo and Albania were considered "new" minorities; they were not protected by the special constitutional provisions for autochthonous minorities and faced some governmental and societal discrimination with respect to employment, housing, and education.
On July 25, the UN Human Rights Committee reported that the Roma continue to suffer prejudice and discrimination, in particular with access to health services, education, and employment.
Many Roma lived in settlements apart from other communities that lacked basic utilities such as electricity, running water, sanitation, and access to transportation. Unlike in previous years, there were no reports that Roma were forcibly relocated to segregated substandard housing facilities. A 2003 report funded by the European Commission noted that the unemployment rate among Roma was 87 percent.
The Roma also reported discrimination in employment, which complicated their housing situation.
Regularization of status for non-Slovenian former Yugoslav citizens remained an issue. Approximately 18 thousand persons, mostly Yugoslav citizens residing in the country at the time of independence, did not apply for citizenship in 1991‑92 and subsequently found their records were "erased" from the population register in February 1992. The deletion of these records has been characterized by some as an administrative decision and by others as an ethnically motivated act. In 2003 the constitutional court ruled unconstitutional portions of a law governing the legal status of former Yugoslav citizens because the law neither recognizes the full period in which these "erased" persons resided in the country nor provides them the opportunity to apply for permanent residency. From February 20 to 24 and from July 2 to 25, several persons went on hunger strikes to protest the government's failure to implement the constitutional court's 2003 ruling. At year's end, the government had not completed legislation to resolve the court's concerns.
Other Societal Abuses and Discrimination
The law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation; however, such societal discrimination was widespread, and isolated cases of violence against homosexuals occurred. A 2004 poll conducted by the Peace Institute of members of the gay and lesbian community found that 53 percent of respondents had experienced verbal, sexual, or physical harassment because of their sexual orientation.
On June 26, multiple assailants attacked and beat three patrons of a Ljubljana club for homosexuals. Police arrested several suspects but later released them because the victims did not want to press charges.
On July 2, after a gay pride parade, two persons were attacked and severely beaten near the Ljubljana train station, while two others were attacked and beaten in downtown Ljubljana. In all three incidents, the attackers taunted and harassed their victims for being gay. Police arrested several suspects but later released them because the victims did not want to press charges.
Section 6 Worker Rights
a. The Right of Association
The law allows workers to form and join unions of their choice without previous authorization or excessive requirements, and they did so in practice. All workers, except police and military personnel, are eligible to form and join labor organizations. Approximately 35 percent of the workforce was unionized.
b. The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively
The law allows unions to conduct their activities without interference, and the government protected this right in practice. The law provides for the right to bargain collectively, and it was freely practiced; however, the law requires that 10 percent of the workers in an industry sector be union members before collective bargaining can be applied to the sector as a whole. All workers were covered by either a general collective bargaining agreement or a collective bargaining agreement that focused on a specific business segment.
The law provides for the right to strike, and workers exercised this right in practice. The law prohibits retaliation against strikers, and the government effectively enforced this provision in practice. The law restricts strikes by some public sector employees, primarily the police and members of the military services, and provides for arbitration to ensure due process and protect these workers' rights.
There are no special laws or exemptions from regular labor laws in the export processing zone of Koper. The other two export processing zones in Maribor and Nova Gorica were eliminated during the year.
c. Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor
The law prohibits forced or compulsory labor, including by children; however, there were reports that such practices occurred (see section 5).
d. Prohibition of Child Labor and Minimum Age for Employment
There are laws and policies to protect children from exploitation in the workplace and to set forth acceptable working conditions; the government effectively implemented and enforced these laws and policies in practice.
The minimum age for employment is 15; however, rural younger children often worked during the harvest season and on other farm chores. The law limits working hours and sets occupational health and safety standards for children; the government effectively enforced these provisions in practice. Urban employers generally respected the age limits.
Trafficking in children for sexual exploitation was a problem (see section 5).
The Ministry of Labor, Family, and Social Affairs is responsible for monitoring labor practices and has inspection authority; police are responsible for investigating violations of the law. Enforcement practices were generally effective.
e. Acceptable Conditions of Work
The national monthly minimum wage of approximately $618 (122,600 tolars) provided a decent standard of living for a worker and family. The law limits the workweek to 40 hours and provides for minimum annual leave of 20 days and a mandatory rest period of at least 1 day per week. Premium pay for overtime was regulated by collective agreements and was not standardized, and maximum overtime was limited to 8 hours per week, 20 hours per month, and 180 hours per year. The Ministry of Labor, Family, and Social Affairs is responsible for monitoring labor practices and has inspection authority; police are responsible for investigating violations of the law. The laws were enforced effectively.
Special commissions under the Ministries of Health and Labor, Family, and Social Affairs set and enforced standards for occupational health and safety. Workers had the right to remove themselves from dangerous work situations without jeopardy to their continued employment; however, it was not clear to what extent they could do so in practice.