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(Neue Zürcher Zeitung) Swiss National Council wants a stricter treatment of Eritrean asylum seekers

Posted by: Semere Asmelash

Date: Tuesday, 05 March 2019

The spring session will start on Monday - the National Council is debating how to deal with Eritrean asylum seekers and the hardship clause for expulsions.  Stock Photo Autumn Session 2018. (Image: Peter Schneider / Keystone)

The spring session will start on Monday - the National Council is debating how to deal with Eritrean asylum seekers and the hardship clause for expulsions. Stock Photo Autumn Session 2018. (Image: Peter Schneider / Keystone)

The National Council wants a stricter treatment of Eritrean asylum seekers

On the first day of the session, the National Council decided on two topics on which controversial discussions have been going on for years: dealing with Eritrean asylum seekers and the hardship clause on expulsions.
rhy., fsr.4.3.2019, 13:20

Asylum policy: What has been debated today?

A motion by FDP Council of States Damian Müller on the "implementation of a fair asylum policy in relation to Eritrea" requires that the legal scope for action be used more consistently, so that as many provisional admission permits can be lifted. In addition, all Eritreans who are provisionally admitted to be reviewed. A resulting report to Parliament should show why in specific cases the admission permit can not be lifted. As a third and final point, the motion wants to strengthen the diplomatic presence in Eritrea to facilitate the implementation of repatriations.

The most concise votes and the decision

  • FDP National Councilor Hansjörg Brunner says: "Even if the number of asylum seekers from Eritreans is declining, the specific problemremains with the country of origin Eritrea."
  • A clear majority of the State Political Commission supports the motion. Valérie Piller Carrard (sp., Freiburg) speaks for the minority in the commission and says: "A feeling in the population should not determine the asylum policy." The Federal Council is already implementing what the motion demands.
  • By mid-2019, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) will examine the preliminary recordings, in February 2020, the report should be referred to Parliament, said Federal Councilor Karin Keller-Sutter. On the matter of repudiation, she says: " All diplomatic pisteshave to be tapped ." Missions to Eritrea and talks with Eritrean officials are regularly taking place. Nevertheless, Keller-Sutter adds: "We still have a lot of work to do here."
  • The motion was accepted by 127 votes to 51 with two abstentions.

How was the situation so far?

Eritrea is the country of origin of most asylum seekers in Switzerland, even though the numbers have been falling in the past three years. Signposting to Eritrea is not generally considered unreasonable. The Federal Administrative Court has upheld the stricter course that the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has been applying to Eritrean nationals since 2016 by stating that the return of Eritreans is generally acceptable and reasonable. But a readmission agreement with Eritrea does not exist, which is why many Eritreans remain in Switzerland despite the decision to divorce.

Who was for it, who against it and why?

The motion found broad support in parliament. The bourgeois parties supported them practically closed. This was followed by the Council of the State Political Commission of the National Council. She had already spoken out in favor of maintaining the pressure on the Federal Council to find solutions to the situation of provisionally admitted Eritreans in Switzerland. The representatives of SP, Greens and Green Liberals in the Commission, however, had rejected the motion. They argued that a fair Eritrea policy could not be equated with sending back as many Eritreans as possible.
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