Cantons insist asylum seekers be sent home

The cantons have stepped up criticism of the federal government’s handling of asylum seekers, accusing it of not processing claims fast enough.

This content was published on June 24, 2011 minutes and agencies

At a news conference in Bern on Friday, the justice and police directors of the 26 cantons accused federal authorities of taking too long to process claims and of sending asylum seekers from federal processing centres to the cantons too quickly.

The directors called on federal authorities prioritise claims from people who had already lodged asylum claims in another country, and to stop sending these people – some 55 per cent of claimants – to the cantons all together.

They said people whose claims were “manifestly unfounded” must be sent immediately back to their countries of origin.

“Urgent measures must be taken to accelerate asylum procedures and to urge the countries of origin of people whose claims have been refused, to take back their citizens,” a joint statement said.

Statistics from the Federal Migration Office showed there were some 38,000 people subject to asylum claim processes at the end of May, far fewer than the 104,000 claimants who arrived in the country in 1999, as a result of conflicts in Kosovo and Sri Lanka.

Asylum claims lodged by Tunisians more than doubled from 165 in April to 342 in May, statistics show.

In May, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga announced plans to speed up asylum procedures, hire extra staff and give the federal authorities a greater say on the issue. Federal authorities are also preparing to open army barracks to house any overflow of claimants.

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