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Council of States: Deportation Plans & Stricter Refugee Regulations

  • By The Swiss Times
  • 13 March 2024

Amidst legislative debate, Switzerland’s Council of States votes to explore third-country relocations for rejected Eritrean asylum seekers.

Council of States: Deportation Plans & Stricter Refugee Regulations
Keystone/PABLO GIANINAZZI

Rejected asylum seekers from Eritrea who cannot be returned to their home country should have to leave Switzerland for a third country. This is the demand of the Council of States.

On Wednesday, it adopted a motion by Petra Gössi (FDP/SZ) with this demand. The decision was made in favour, 26 votes to 16 with one abstention.

The Council of States already adopted a similar proposal last June that was narrowly rejected last December. The upper chamber must now address the issue again.

Gössi’s motion calls on the Federal Council to conclude a transit agreement with a suitable third country. Senegal was the supposed original third country for this bill when it was first signed by then Minister of Justice of Senegal in 2003. However this relationship never came to pass.

There is a great deal of unease among the population that they are powerless to repatriate rejected Eritrean asylum seekers, said Gössi. “We have to look for new solutions,” said Pirmin Schwander (SVP/SZ).

The Federal Council rejected the motion. Beat Jans stated: Cooperation with Eritrea has improved and the number of Eritreans obliged to leave the country has decreased slightly. There are also fewer asylum applications from Eritrea.

According to Jans, a transit agreement like the one with Senegal at the beginning of the noughties would not solve the problem. It would only allow transit for a maximum of 72 hours. Many of those affected would then return to Switzerland.

Tougher Action Wanted Against Extremists

The Council of States also wants to take tougher action against foreigners who violently support the regime from which they have allegedly fled. On Wednesday, it adopted a corresponding motion by Andrea Caroni (FDP/AR) – by 29 votes to 11.

The Federal Council responded that they shares the motion’s concerns. However, the Federal Council is of the opinion that the legal means to take action against such persons already exist.

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) revokes asylum if asylum seekers violate internal or external security, said Jans. According to Caroni, however, the requirements for measures under immigration and asylum law are far too high. Appropriate changes to the law should therefore be considered.

The motion must now be dealt with by the National Council.

©Keystone/SDA

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