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Commission recommends tightening asylum law

An asylum seeker waits at the Federal Refugee Office in Basel Keystone

Switzerland should reduce or freeze development aid to countries which refuse to take back asylum seekers whose applications have been rejected.

This content was published on November 17, 2003 - 18:22

Monday's recommendation by a parliamentary commission is part of a revision of the Swiss asylum law.

Charles-Albert Antille, head of the House of Representatives’ commission, said the move was designed to send a signal to uncooperative countries.

He added that cuts would only be made to development aid funding and would not apply in situations such as famine.

The proposal was backed by 12 commission members, with nine parliamentarians voting against.

If approved, it would be up to the cabinet to work out details such as which countries would be concerned. Bern would also need to conclude readmission and transit deals with asylum seekers’ states of origin.

Accelerated process

On Monday the commission also voted to allow a single judge instead of three to review an appeal made by an asylum seeker regarding a rejection of his or her application.

In future, Swiss authorities would have only ten days to turn down an asylum application. Where further clarification of a case was needed, a delay of up to three months could be imposed.

The aim of the proposed amendments was to speed up the time it took to process applications by reducing paperwork and the number of unresolved dossiers, said Antille.

Rewards

Other measures designed to speed up processing of asylum applications include the introduction of financial rewards for the fastest cantons, he added.

Despite opposition from cities like Zurich, the commission also voted against lifting an employment ban on asylum seekers during their first three months in Switzerland.

Asylum seekers who have stayed in a country deemed to be safe – according to a government list – before arriving in Switzerland, should wherever possible be sent back, the commission said.

Parliament is due to vote on the proposals in May 2004.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

A parliamentary commission has proposed amending the Swiss asylum law to speed up the processing of applications.

Measures include rewarding cantons that prove most efficient.

The commission also proposed cutting development aid to countries that refuse to take back its citizens whose asylum applications have been refused.

Parliament is set to vote on the measures in May 2004.

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