Young Swiss increasingly positive about foreigners: report

Fewer young people in Switzerland view immigration as problem while an increasing number are likely to see the presence of foreigners in the country as an advantage.

Young Swiss increasingly positive about foreigners: report
. File photo: Depositphotos

This is one of the findings of the new Credit Suisse Youth Barometer 2018, published on Monday.

The study looked at the attitudes and concerns of 16 to 25-year-olds in Switzerland, Brazil, Singapore and the United States.

Read also: Switzerland ranked third best country to be an immigrant

It found that the number of young Swiss people who view immigration as “a very big problem” had dropped from 21 percent to 12 percent between 2010 and 2018 while the percentage seeing it as a “big problem” declined from 25 percent to 19 percent in the same period.

At the same time, 33 percent of people in this group said relations between young Swiss and foreigners were “fairly amicable” – up from just 11 percent in 2010.

A further 33 percent said these relations were “fairly tense”, half the 66 percent figure of eight years ago.

In a similar vein, the percentage of young Swiss people who said foreigners were an opportunity or an advantage for the country more than doubled from 7 precent in 2010 to 16 percent in 2018.

Study author Cloé Jans described the result as a surprise.

“This is a huge change in the perception of the problem within just a few years,” she said.

She said the change could be down to the fact that the generation of immigrants from the Balkans had now integrated well into Switzerland.

“A lot of young people went to school with people from the Balkans and see them as part of our society,” Jans was quoted as saying on Swiss news site 20 Minuten.

The Credit Suisse study found the greatest worry for young Swiss people was the state pension (AHV/AVS), with 53 percent of 16 to 25-year-olds naming it as one of the biggest five problems facing the country.

In second and third place among concerns were foreigners and immigration (29 percent) and asylum seekers and refugees (28 percent).

The study involving interviews with 1,000 young Swiss people also found that 87 percent of people in this group rated honesty as extremely important or very important. For ‘having friends I can count on’ this figure was 86 percent and for ‘balancing leisure time and career’ it was 81 percent.

But ‘having lots of money’ scored just 23 percent. ‘Having a good career’ was rated as extremely important or very important by 37 percent of 16 to 25-year-olds surveyed.

Read also: Are new language tests putting people off applying for Swiss citizenship?



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”.