• Switzerland's news in English

Cantons seek DNA tests for asylum seekers

AFP · 18 Aug 2013, 18:09

Published: 18 Aug 2013 18:09 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Eritreans represent the largest group seeking asylum in Switzerland, with nearly 6,000 requests currently pending in the country.

In June, Swiss voters in a referendum overwhelmingly approved stricter asylum criteria, notably the removal of military desertion as a valid reason for asylum.

That had been the key reason cited by Eritreans, whose country imposes unlimited and under-paid military service on all able-bodied men and women.

According to the Schweiz Am Sonntag newspaper, Eritreans also make more requests than any other nationality to bring over relatives under the family reunification programme.

"Identity papers or birth certificates must be considered as suspect" when presented by people seeking residence under the family reunification programme, said Iris Rivas, head of migration services in the canton of Bern.

She told the newspaper that in many home countries of asylum seekers, official papers are easy to forge and their embassies in Switzerland verify only whether the surnames given match those of the petitioners.

The call for DNA testing is also supported by the canton of Lucerne's migration chief Alexander Lieb.

 "Identity control in the case of family reunification is too lax," he said.

Swiss law currently allows case-by-case requests for DNA tests when there is serious doubt that a claimant belongs to the same family.

Switzerland is among the European countries that welcomes the most asylum seekers in proportion to its population, and numbers have soared in recent years, in part due to the Arab Spring uprisings.

The country has faced a barrage of criticism over its treatment of asylum seekers, including segregation and poor living conditions.

A fierce row broke out in early August amid reports that a small town was allowed to deny residents of a new asylum centre access to public facilities such as the swimming pool.

Authorities maintain that this was a misunderstanding.

Currently fewer than 20 percent of petitioners are granted asylum in Switzerland in a process that can take several years.

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
'Protect Swiss waterways or lose our fish': WWF
Photo: Richi Stadelmann/WWF

Eighty-five percent of fish species in Switzerland are under threat, according to a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).

SBB pilots new annual pass – costing 12,200 francs
The 'door-to-door' pass includes use of an electric car. Photo: SBB

Swiss federal railways (SBB) is looking for 100 people willing to pilot a new annual transport pass that includes use of an electric car.

Immigration to Switzerland falls as emigration rises
File photo: The Local

Immigration in Switzerland has fallen considerably this year, according to official figures.

Wawrinka aces his way into Basel quarterfinals
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The home favourite returns to the quarterfinals of the Swiss Indoors for the first time in five years.

Illegal immigrant dies after setting himself on fire
The victim was treated at University Hospital Zurich. Photo: University Hospital Zurich

The 45-year-old Tunisian was threatened with deportation.

Swiss government rejects call for second immigration vote
Photo: Justus Blumer/Christophe G

The Swiss government has rejected a popular initiative calling for a revote on plans to limit immigration.

Bern: companies should report salary inequality by law
File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The Swiss government wants to force small companies to examine their rates of pay every four years.

Husband in custody after Orbe body identified
File photo: Bas Leenders

The deceased is a 55-year-old woman who lived in the house with her husband.

Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available