Date: Monday, 30 July 2018
The letter also made clear that Eritrean draft dodgers and deserters are recognized in Switzerland as refugees, are recognized as refugees in Switzerland "as they risk inhumane punishment upon return" to Eritrea.
According to the letter, the latest rulings do not affect the ability of Eritrean citizens to live in Switzerland, and will not lead to their deportation, and certainly do not affect anyone already recognized as a refugee.
Still, the letter stated that the deportation of people whose asylum requests were denied is permissible and reasonable, even if they are conscripted into the military upon their return. While "conditions of life in the national service are painful... there are reports of ill-treatments and sexual abuses during the national service" and "Eritrean national service can be qualified as forced labor" it might not be " not to the point that they would render an expulsion illegal" for a person denied refugee status. However, the person cannot be returned by force.
As for the 29-year-old who was refused, she had already finished her military service. According to the document, “the return of Eritrean nationals cannot be generally considered as unreasonable. Illegal exit is not a sufficient ground for asylum on its own, in the absence of an additional risk factor. Persons who have already accomplished their national service and 'diaspora members; who settled their situation with the Eritrean government are not necessarily at risk of being convicted, recruited for national service or persecuted.” Nevertheless, the woman was neither arrested nor deported.
The Swiss embassy emphasized that "Switzerland will continue to examine each case individually, seriously and fully to check that there is no concrete risk to the individual concerned. Eritreans facing a risk of persecution upon return will be given protection in Switzerland. Switzerland does not return Eritrean nationals by force."
Sigal Rozen, of the Hotline for Refugees and Migrant Workers, said: "Switzerland's asylum policy has indeed become very strict, but the only country that expels Eritreans is Sudan, whose leader is wanted by the International Criminal Court for genocide. No democratic country forcibly deports Eritrean nationals. The Justice and Foreign Ministries have made it clear that the deportation is not even on the agenda currently, and it seems that the very discussion of it in the Knesset was meant only to create headlines that might frighten a few more asylum seekers."