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Swiss Migration Office 'broke asylum law'

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14:01 CET+01:00

An independent report has established that the Federal Migration Office (FMO) violated Swiss law when it ignored the applications of up to 10,000 Iraqis who sought asylum at the Swiss embassies in Syria and Egypt.

The matter came to light in August 2011, prompting Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga to commission an external report from former judge Michel Féraud.

The conclusions presented on Wednesday by the Federal Council say that the FMO most likely assumed the Iraqis in question would not be sent back to their home country by the authorities in Syria and Egypt.

However, by making such assumptions and deciding not to process their asylum requests from November 2006 to 2008, the migration office “violated the rules of procedure defined in the asylum legislation, as well as guarantees of due process enshrined in the constitution.

According to judge Féraud, the FMO should have informed the then Justice Minister, Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf,and her successor, about the decision not to process the Iraqi asylum applications.

The same day Sommaruga announced that an external investigation would take place, she also dismissed the head of the FMO, Alard du Bois-Reymond. The Justice Minister gave no reasons for the layoff and would neither confirm nor deny that the decision was linked to the Iraqi asylum inquiry.

The final report concludes that the FMO must deal with all asylum requests submitted since 2008, as well processing the 3,000 earlier applications that remain legally valid. The report sets a 2013 deadline for the implementation of its recommendations.

The report also says that no further disciplinary action should be taken, as officials could not be found to have abused their authority. It also takes into account a statement made by the Federal Council in May 2010 pledging to make regulations for asylum procedures at Swiss embassies less rigid.

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