Justice minister cites ‘gaps’ in Dublin system

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga Keystone

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, responding to a European Court of Human Rights ruling, called on Thursday for development of an action plan to deal with what she termed “gaps” in the Dublin system.

This content was published on November 6, 2014 minutes and agencies

Sommaruga said this was her personal response to Tuesday’s ruling by the European Court of Human Rights against Switzerland’s decision to send back an eight-member Afghan family to Italy, the country where they had first applied for asylum.

“We’re in the process of analysing the decision,” said the justice minister while attending the annual meeting of the Federal Commission on Migration in Bern.

The Dublin accord, which Switzerland joined in 2008, stipulates that the country where a person first applies for asylum is responsible for that individual’s asylum process. Asylum seekers who travel to another country and reapply for asylum are sent back to the country where they first applied.

Although she claimed there were gaps in the Dublin system, Sommaruga said that in general it was not being called into question.

The system “was never perfect and will never be perfect”, she said, but currently there is no alternative.

The refugee situation in Europe at present is barely manageable, and requires a plan of action to help countries deal with an extraordinary situation, said Sommaruga.

Boats filled with asylum seekers capsize at almost regular intervals off the coast of Italy. On Wednesday, a Swiss tanker rescued just over 100 refugees on its way from Libya to Sardinia.

Different countries are affected to different extents by the wave of people seeking asylum, and some countries don’t stick to the guidelines, she said. “That’s not acceptable.”

The minister warned against having too high expectations for the development of an action plan. It would not be easy and was likely to take years. Finding a solution will require a group effort, she said. “Switzerland does not set its asylum policy alone.” 

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