Slovak Republic: Manufacture, distribution and use of fraudulent documents, including identity, police, court, and medical documents; ability of a person to obtain valid identity documents using false information (2012-March 2015) [SVK105107.E]

Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Ottawa

1. Security Features on Identity Documents

According to a news release on its website, Morpho technology company is the "sole supplier" of identity documents for the Ministry of Interior, and supplies Slovak Republic with passports, vehicle registration cards, resident permits, weapon registration documents, police ID cards and electronic (eID) cards (Morpho 21 Jan. 2015). According to the news release, the company secured a three-year contract in 2015 for driver's license cards which "integrates Morpho's state-of-the-art security features (special inks, tactile relief, laser engraving, etc) to comply with European standards and provide enhanced protection against document fraud" (ibid.). Detailed descriptions of the security features of Slovak identity cards, passports, and driver's licence documents are provided on the Ministry of Interior website and are attached to this Response (Attachments 1-5).

2. Prevalence and Availability of Fraudulent Documents

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the Open Society Foundation (OSF) Slovakia, a civil society organization which supplies projects and grants to NGOs to help "develop open society, foster education, human rights and equality of opportunities for underprivileged persons" (OSF n.d.), gave the personal opinion that "fraudulent documents are not very typical" in the Slovak Republic (ibid. 6 May 2015). In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an attorney at a private law firm based in Bratislava working in the areas of criminal, family and commercial law gave the opinion that fraudulent documents "are not widely available" in the Slovak Republic, and that those individuals who engage in fraudulent activity are "criminal persons who obtain support from individuals within official authorities" (13 Apr. 2015).

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, an official at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Ottawa provided information from the Ministry of Interior on fraudulent documents seized by the ministry: in 2012, a total of 486 fraudulent documents were seized; in 2013, 609 documents were seized; in 2014, 380 documents were seized; and in 2015, 218 documents have been seized so far (Slovak Republic 21 May 2015). The specific types of fraudulent documents seized are summarized in the table below, provided by the Ministry of Interior on 21 May 2015.

  2012 2013 2014 2015
Passport 68 10 105 69
ID card 31 20 13 7
Visa 18 5 12 2
Temporary Residence Permit 91 10 3 0
Border/immigration stamp (exit or entry stamp) 189 502 206 100
Driving licence 27 23 15 3
Birth certificate 8 2 1 0
Marriage certificate 0 1 0 0
Death certiticate 0 0 0 0
"Other documents" 48 24 23 36

The OSF representative cited a 2013 Slovak-language media article indicating that a gang in Košice had been producing [unspecified] fraudulent documents and the perpetrators were charged and received suspended sentences (OSF 6 May 2015). According to the OSF representative, some of the false documents were made in order to obtain other genuine documents, noting that "a birth certificate alone usually does not serve as such for anything apart from obtaining ID or other documents" (ibid.). Further and corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The attorney explained that most cases of false documents that his firm has witnessed are cases of criminal activities where false ID cards have been used to fraudulently transfer ownership of real estate, or the use of false proof of education to obtain a higher salary (Attorney 13 Apr. 2015).

In 2012, a Slovak news website, the Daily.SK, reported that British police in the UK confiscated over 700 Slovak passports and over 1,400 forged birth certificates belonging to Slovak people from a settlement in East Slovakia, after uncovering child benefits fraud in the UK; the documents were returned by the British police to Slovak authorities (The Daily.SK 30 Aug. 2012). The same source reported that Slovak passports are a "valuable commodity," reportedly worth about 700 Euros (ibid.). Further and corroborating information about this incident could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

2.1 Police, Court and Medical Documents

For information on the procedures to obtain copies of police reports and medical records, see Response to Information Requests SVK103775 and SVK104832.

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a senior legal counsel in the Office of the Public Defender of Rights indicated that police documents, court documents, and medical reports do not contain any "sophisticated" features to prevent counterfeiting, comparable to those on passports or IDs [see Attachments] (Slovak Republic 10 Apr. 2015). The same source stated that these documents are "usually printed by [personal computers] and contain only [a] specific header, ... registry/file number and imprint stamp" (ibid.). According to the same source, these documents are "easier to falsify, but on the other hand ... [the authenticity of] such a document could be confirmed or traced" through the "specific file number" in the header information of each document as a copy of each document "should [be] kept by its creator ([such as the] particular police department, court or medical institution or private [medical] doctor)" (ibid.).

The Ministry of Interior provided the following additional information to the Embassy official with regard to police documents:

[Police documents] differ from region to region in Slovakia. You can identify them usually by name of police directorate which issued the document (e.g. "Okresné riaditelstvo Policajného zboru v Michalovciach " = The District Directorate of Police Force in Michalovce city). They are also usually signed by the competent officer. The documents are not secured from forgery by any kind of watermarks or other kinds of security marks. Police announcements or decisions are usually furnished by state stamp, date, place, name, signature of issuing person and reference number of the case. Authenticity of these documents could be verified by request addressed to [the] issuing authority. All police records and reports are also signed by [the] officer with his name. (Slovak Republic 21 May 2015)

The Ministry of Interior stated that it did not have information about instances of fraudulently obtained police reports, court documents or medical reports and that information on these documents would need to be traced on a case by case basis (ibid.).

The Ministry of Interior indicated that court documents usually have the same protective features as police documents: they generally have stamps (with the Slovak state emblem), reference numbers, and the names and signatures of "officers or judges handling the case" (ibid.). The attorney in Bratislava similarly noted that the "only security feature present on court documents ... are signatures, stamps and dry-stamps" (Attorney 13 Apr. 2015). He further expressed the view that, in the firm's areas of practice (criminal, family and commercial law), the availability of fraudulent court documents is "very low" (ibid.). Further and corroborating information for this statement could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

In correspondence with the Research Directorate, a representative of the General Hospital and Polyclinic in Levoèa indicated that the format of patient documentation varies between medical care providers, depending on the software of the hospital information system used by the medical care provider (General Hospital and Polyclinic 28 Apr. 2015). The source noted that medical documentation does not contain security features, but that [translation] "every document bears [the] patient's signature as well as [the] signature and stamp of the attending medical professional" (ibid). The source further explained that the "respective provider of medical care is responsible for storing/management of medical documents" (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

The representative of the General Hospital and Polyclinic in Levoèa also indicated that upon admission to the hospital for injuries suffered during a crime, or before undergoing a medical procedure, patients are issued with documents such as: the Informed Patient and Pre-Op Instructions; the Admission Medical Report; the Admission Nursing Report; and upon discharge, documentation issued also includes the Discharge Doctor's Report and the Discharge Nursing Report, which are sent to the general practitioner of the patient (ibid.). The same source indicated that [translation] the "respective provider of medical care is responsible for storing/management of medical documents" (ibid.).

According to the national news agency Czech News Agency, Slovak police have uncovered "several cases" in the past in which Slovak general practitioners were bribed to issue false sick notes (CTK 17 Feb. 2015). Corroborating information and further information on fraudulent police, court, and medical documents could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate within the time constraints of this Response.

3. Arrests and Prosecutions for Manufacturing and Use of Fraudulent Documents

Sources report that in November 2011, the Slovak police conducted a large scale raid involving over 300 officers against an organized crime group called the "Pito Gang," which was allegedly involved in violent crime (The Daily.SK 18 Nov. 2011; CTK 18 Nov. 2011) and producing fraudulent documents to enable credit fraud (ibid.). The police raid involved the arrest of the gang's leader and over 20 members (ibid.; The Daily.SK 18 Nov. 2011).

In 2012, the Slovak Republic reported to the European Commission and European Migration Network that it had conducted a number of training sessions within the police on recognition and detection of document falsification, focused on security features and printing techniques (EU 17 Dec. 2012, 18).

The following information on the number of criminal complaints and prosecutions related to the manufacture and use of fraudulent documents in the Slovak Republic, from 2012 to 2015, was sent from the Ministry of Interior to the Embassy official, who provided the information to the Research Directorate on 21 May 2015:

  2012 2013 2014 2015 (January - April)
Criminal complaints filed 272 198 77 72
Indictments 55 63 77 16

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Attorney, Law Firm in Bratislava. 13 April 2015. Correspondence with the Research Directorate.

Czech News Agency (CTK). 18 November 2011. "Slovak Police Accuse Gangsters of Violence, Credit Fraud." (Factiva)

The Daily. 30 August 2012. "UK Police Send 700 Confiscated Passports of Slovak Fraudsters." <http://www.thedaily.sk/uk-police-send-700-confiscated-passports-of-slovak-fraudsters/> [Accessed 21 Apr. 2015]

_____. 18 November 2011. "Lipsic Says Right Force Used in Pito Gang Raid." <http://www.thedaily.sk/lipsic-says-right-force-used-in-pito-gang-raid/> [Accessed 20 May 2015]

European Union (EU). 17 December 2012. European Commission and European Migration Network. 17 December 2012. Ad-Hoc Query on False and Forged Documents Requested by HU EMN NCP on 5th November 2012. <http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/home-affairs/what-we-do/networks/european_migration_network/reports/docs/ad-hoc-queries/residence/435_emn_ad-hoc_query_on_false_and_forged_documentation5november2012_(wid___.pdf> [Accessed 10 Apr. 2015]

General Hospital and Polyclinic, Levoèa . 28 April 2015. Correspondence from a representative to the Research Directorate. Translation by the Translation Bureau, Public Works and Government Services Canada.

Morpho. 21 January 2015. "Morpho Becomes Sole Supplier for All Slovakian ID Documents." <http://www.morpho.com/en/media/20150122_morpho-becomes-sole-supplier-all-slovakian-id-documents> [Accessed 20 May 2015]

Open Society Foundation (OSF). 6 May 2015. Correspondence from a representative of the OSF in Bratislava to the Research Directorate.

_____. N.d. "About Foundation." <http://osf.sk/en/o-nadacii/> [Accessed 19 May 2015]

Slovak Republic. 21 May 2015. Correspondence from an official at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Ottawa to the Research Directorate.

_____. 22 April 2015. Correspondence from an official at the Embassy of the Slovak Republic in Ottawa to the Research Directorate.

_____. 10 April 2015. Correspondence from a senior legal counsel at the Office of the Public Defender of Rights to the Research Directorate.

Additional Sources Consulted

Oral sources: The following were unable to provide information within the time constraints of this Response: Slovak Republic – Bureau of Border and Alien Police of the Presidium of the Police Force,Travel Documents Analysis Unit.

The following were unable to provide information for this Response: an auditing firm in the Slovak Republic; a health insurance company in Bratislava; a law firm in Bratislava (Chechova); Canada – Canada Border Services Agency; Centre for Civil and Human Rights in Košice; Human Rights League; Institute for Public Affairs; International Organization for Migration in Slovakia; Patient Empowerment; professor, Drake University; professor, Trnava University; professor, York University; Roma Institute; Slovak Republic – Public Health Office, Ministry of Health; Slovak Bar Association; The Slovak Society of General Practice of the Slovak Medical Association; Transparency International Slovakia; VIA IURIS.

Attempts to contact the following were unsuccessful within the time constraints of this Response: Association of Hospitals in Slovak Republic; Association for the Protection of Patients' Rights; Canada- Embassy in Bratislava; Citizen, Democracy and Accountability; two doctors in Bratislava; Health Policy Institute; lawyers in Košice, Banska Bystrica, Bratislava, and Povazska Bystrica; Public hospitals – Univerzitná nemocnica Bratislava, L. Pasteur University Hospital in Košice; Private Hospitals – Hospital Košice-Saca, Medissimo;Slovak Republic – Bureau of Border and Alien Police of the Presidium of the Police Force, Healthcare Surveillance Authority, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Justice, National Health Information Center, Public Health Authority – Anti-corruption Reporting; World Health Organization – Slovakia field office; Slovak Medical Association; Slovak Medical Chamber; Victim Support Slovakia.

Internet sites, including: Amnesty International, Association for the Protection of Patients' Rights; BBC; Deutsche Welle ; ecoi.net; European Union- European Anti-Fraud Office, European Migration Network, Europol, Frontex; Health Policy Institute; Human Rights Watch; IHS Global Insight; IRIN; Keesing Reference Systems; Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe; Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty; Slovak Republic - Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Justice, National Health Information Center, Public Health Authority, Statistical Office; Slovakia Today; The Slovak Spectator; Transparency International; UN- Office on Drugs and Crime, Refworld; US- Department of State.

Additional Sources Consulted

1. Slovak Republic. 2015. "Identity Card - Model 2015." <http://www.minv.sk/?vzory-dokladov&subor=213218> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015]

2. Slovak Republic. 2013. "Identity Card of the Slovak Republic." <http://www.minv.sk/?vzory-dokladov&subor=186000> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015]

3. Slovak Republic. 2008. "Travel Documents with Biometrics - Model 2008." <http://www.minv.sk/?vzory-dokladov&subor=208169> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015]

4. Slovak Republic. 2014. "Travel Documents with Biometrics - Model 2014."

5. Slovak Republic. 2008. "Driving Licence of the Slovak Republic." <http://www.minv.sk/?vzory-dokladov&subor=25719> [Accessed 20 Apr. 2015]