|Statewatch article: RefNo# 24634
|Switzerland: Asylum and immigration
Draconian new package against asylum-seekers introduced
The Christian Democrats, the Radicals, the Union of Christian
Democrats and Democratie Suisse have all backed new `constraining
measures' against asylum-seekers announced by the Swiss
government in December. The package includes: the right to detain
asylum- seekers for up to 3 months for petty misdemeanours not
otherwise punishable under Swiss law; to extend this period by
a further 6 months pending a decision to deport; to accelerate
the process of deportation when an asylum claim is considered
unfounded; to refuse to consider the asylum request of any
refugee not in possession of official identity papers; to search
asylum-seekers and anyone showing solidarity to them.
The Christian Democrats argue that the measures are necessary
to `combat drug crimes'. The liberal parties, while alarmed by
the new laws, argue that they are a necessary response to the
fight against certain forms of criminality. But the Socialist
party and the Ecologists have indicated opposition to these
proposals. And the group `Coordination Suisse-Asile' which
represents refugee solidarity groups across Switzerland, has
started a petition protesting against the law. Unfortunately, it
has only gathered 7503 signatures so far (Courrier 21,25.2.94).
Swiss/Hungarian joint accord for repatriation of ethnic Albanians
The Minister of the Interior, Arnold Koller, has signed a
bilateral agreement with his Hungarian counterpart to cover the
repatriation of asylum-seekers from Kosovo. The agreement, it
seems, is a means of circumventing the international blockade
against Serbia. Under the agreement, the Hungarian government has
agreed to take back all those asylum-seekers who have, by making
their way to Switzerland, passed through Hungarian territory.
Furthermore, Hungary promises to act as a transit third country
to which rejected asylum-seekers can be sent.
Apparently, the Federal Office for Refugees (FOR) has plans
to send ethnic Albanians from Kosovo by plane to Hungary, where
they would then be sent by bus via Zagreb, Croatia to Pristina,
capital of Kosovo. Another alternative that has been muted is to
deport rejected asylum-seekers via Bulgaria. According to the
director of the FOR, Urs Scheidegger, the best solution would be
for the United Nations to lift its embargo on the airport at
Pristina which would allow for direct deportations (Courrier
5,11.2.94, Tribune de Geneve 11.2.94).
UNHCR criticised for involvement in Tamil repatriation plan
More details are beginning to emerge about the bilateral
agreement signed on 12 January by the governments of Switzerland
and Sri Lanka for the forced repatriation of rejected Tamil
asylum-seekers. The agreement, which has been made with the
participation of the UNHCR, will effect 16,000 Tamils currently
awaiting decisions in Switzerland about their asylum
applications, and will remain valid for two years.
The director of the British Refugee Council, Mr. Alf Dubs, has
written to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees asking for a
review of UNHCR's position whereby it will `act as a liaison
between the returnees and the two parties and assist in meeting
particular problems encumbered by the refugees'. According to the
London-based Tamil Information Centre, UNHCR did not reply to Mr.
Dubbs letter for two months.
Meanwhile, a delegation of Swiss NGOs is visiting Colombo in
March. The NGO's point out that a 26-year-old Tamil asylum-
seeker, Ponnampalan Rasadurai Segar who was repatriated from
Denmark in January was arrested in Colombo soon after his arrival
(Exile March 94, no. 74, Tamil Information, January 94).
Border police told to get tough on Bosnian refugees
The Swiss government has instructed police on the Italo-Swiss
border to deny entry to any Bosnian refugee seeking entry to
Switzerland without a valid visa. The gover
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