The Swiss Times - Swiss News in English

Council of States wants to continue to allow exceptions for secondary migration

The Council of States does not want to accept asylum applications from people who have arrived from safe third countries "as a rule". On Wednesday, however, it rejected the change in practice requested by the National Council, which no longer wanted to allow exceptions.

In autumn 2023, the Grand Chamber voted 92 to 83 in favor of the FDP's demand that asylum applications from people arriving from safe third countries be rejected without exception. It saw this as a means of preventing secondary migration. The FDP was supported by the SVP and a majority of the center.

The Council of States has now opposed an amendment to the Asylum Act. This would contradict the principle of non-refoulement and would make humanitarian admissions impossible, said committee spokesperson Tiana Angelina Moser (GLP/ZH). There needs to be a possibility for exceptions to the rule.

Narrow decision

The small chamber agreed with the Federal Council's proposal by 22 votes to 21 with two abstentions. With the deletion of the term "as a rule", the Swiss asylum authorities' so-called right of self-entry would become obsolete, said Justice Minister Beat Jans. This is applied in around five percent of cases.

This could protect families with children or other vulnerable people in particular if they would not have enough access to child-friendly accommodation or adequate medical care if they were returned to a European country of first asylum. Jans promised that the instrument would only be used with restraint.

Esther Friedli (SVP/SG) argued unsuccessfully that asylum applications could only be curbed if asylum applications from people arriving from safe third countries were consistently rejected. Damian Müller (FDP/LU) also said that federal and cantonal accommodation was at its limit. Secondary migration must be combated effectively.


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