Update: 23.06.2008

Detention Before Expulsion Must be Reduced

On 18 June 2008, the European Parliament adopted new community rules on the repatriation of illegal immigrants. As a future member of the Schengen and Dublin agreements (security and asylum accord), Switzerland has two years to adapt its law, which affect asylum seekers and foreigners, to conform to the new migration law. It limits to eighteen months the period illegal immigrants can be detained. Also, in the future, asylum seekers whose request has been rejected must receive written notification of their expulsion.

Sensitive Issue

The European proposal of the so-called “Return Directive” was criticised by several international NGOs. Also, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights criticised the new regulations during a press conference in Geneva, saying EU countries would do better to look at ratifying the UN convention on rights for migrant workers. In Switzerland, the question of eighteen-months detention is also sensitive, as two-thirds of the population accepted the new asylum law, which states that asylum seekers refusing to leave the country can be detained for up to twenty-four months pending deportation. The non-governmental organisation, the Swiss Refugee Council, welcomed the decision by the EU, saying Switzerland is obliged to respect European standards.

It is not clear how many refugees will be affected by these news measures.


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