Muslim refugees housed in Swiss brothel

Eleven Muslim refugees have been housed by Social Services in a brothel in Thurgau in north-eastern Switzerland.

On the ground floor of the Erotic Hotel Venus, a brothel that has been around for some 20 years, seven Romanian and Hungarian women serve guests with drinks at the bar, or entertain them in the strip bar. If the men want sexual services, they’re taken to the first floor.

But sitting on the second floor, drinking black tea and trying to make plans for their futures, are 11 Muslim asylum seekers, newspaper Blick reports.

Beat Schlierenzauer, the man responsible for placing the men there, maintains he did not know when he first looked at the rooms that they were in a brothel.

“They met our requirements exactly,” he said. Having later discovered what the rest of the building was being used for, he then avoided housing women and children there.

The brothel’s landlady, Mrs. Wyss, complains that having asylum seekers in the building has hurt trade. Nevertheless, the men keep themselves to themselves and do not have anything to do with the women.

“I think the men are more afraid of us than we are of them,” she said.

The asylum seekers know what the women do, but have no desire to talk about it other than to describe the situation as as alien, unpleasant, and “noisy”.

“If an applicant is not satisfied with his accommodation, he can have it checked,” Bernard Koch, member of the Swiss Christian People’s Party in the Thurgauer government, told Blick. “But the people living in Switzerland have to get used to our rules. And prostitution is legal. “

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Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse

Minors and adults housed in Swiss asylum centres have faced serious abuses at the hands of security staff, including beatings and chokeholds, Amnesty International warned Wednesday.

Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse
An asylum centre in the Alpine village of Realp, Central Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In a report, the rights organisation’s Swiss chapter detailed “alarming abuse” in the country’s federal asylum centres, and called for urgent government action to address the problem.

The report documents a range of abuses by staff of the private security companies Securitas and Protectas, which had been contracted by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Amnesty said it had spoken with 14 asylum seekers, including two minors, who reported having faced abuse from the security officers between January 2020 and April 2021, along with 18 current and former security agents and other witnesses.

The asylum seekers described being beaten and physically restrained to the point where they could not breathe or fainted.

Some also complained about trouble breathing after being doused with pepper spray, and being locked in a metal container in freezing temperatures.

The report found that six of the alleged victims had to be hospitalised, while two said they had been denied the medical assistance they had requested.

“In addition to complaints about physical pain, mistreatment and punitive treatment, these people also voiced concerns about (security staff’s) hostility, prejudice and racism towards the residents,” said Alice Giraudel, a lawyer with Amnesty’s Swiss branch.

Such attitudes had seemed to target people of North African origin in particular, she said. Some of the abuse cases, Amnesty said, “could amount to torture”, and would thus violate Switzerland’s obligations under international law.

In a media statement, the SEM said it took the criticism “very seriously”, but rejected the suggestion that abuses were taking place in a systematic manner in federal asylum centres.

It stressed that there was no acceptance for “disproportionate constraint” of asylum seekers, and vowed to “sanction all improper behaviour.”

Giraudel hailed that the SEM had recently announced it would open an external probe into isolated abuse allegations.

But, she insisted, the situation was alarming and required the government to stop looking at allegations of abuse as the work of “a few bad apples”.