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IMMIGRATION

Swiss MP: failed asylum seekers are avoiding deportation

Migrants who are refused asylum are not always deported and could prove a threat to society, according to an MP who wants the Swiss government to address the issue in a report.

Swiss MP: failed asylum seekers are avoiding deportation
Photo: Waldemarus/Depositphotos
On Thursday the Swiss upper house of parliament backed a motion by Liberal-Radical Damian Müller in which he asked the Swiss government to examine the problem, reported news agencies
 
According to the text of Müller’s motion, some migrants are refused asylum but then manage to avoid being deported, including some who are criminal offenders or may have jihadist sympathies and therefore pose a terror threat. 
 
The Swiss government should find ways to improve current deportation rates and ensure that potentially dangerous people whose deportation is delayed are sufficiently monitored, he said.
 
The report should also examine whether the costs for this should be borne by the federal government rather than the cantons. 
 
Addressing the issue, justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga said there was no “recipe” for combatting terrorism and that just because someone is refused asylum doesn’t mean they are a terrorist. 
 
But the Council of States supported Müller’s request. 
 
It will be addressed by the Federal Council as part of a report on police measures related to the fight against terror. 

IMMIGRATION

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”.

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