Update: 02.11.2007

Asylum seekers without papers: NGO concerned

In the first half of 2007 more than half of the rejections of applications for asylum were due to missing documents  - compared with 9.9 per cent in 2005. This is what the non governmental organisation Swiss Refugee Council (SRC) observed after examining almost 1000 cases treated by the Federal Migration Office between 1st January and end of May 2007. On 19 July, the SRC criticised the Swiss authorities for being too strict in their application of recently introduced tougher asylum laws, in particular over the kinds of identity documents required.

Risk of turning «true refugees» down

Requests were turned down even if the identity was established or considered highly likely via a document such as a driving licence or birth certificate, the refugee organisation said. It added that the option of extending the 48-hour delay to secure missing documents was rarely used. The SRC added that the Federal Migration Office also rejected outright any excuses for the missing paperwork, arguing that these excuses were often made by many applicants. Cases were turned down even when people had been victims of rape or genital mutilation or had fled a war zone.

The Federal Migration Office, which draws a positive picture of the past six months, defended itself against accusations that it had overstepped the line set out by parliament. It argued that every application was looked at carefully with the respective refugee organisations to see if there were acceptable reasons for missing documents or signs of persecution.

© humanrights.ch / MERS - Hallerstr. 23 - CH-3012 Bern - Tel. +41 31 302 01 61