Parliament moves to tighten asylum laws
swissinfo.ch 26 June 2012
By Urs Geiser
Asylum seekers face cuts in welfare payments as part of a series of measures discussed in parliament. These are aimed at reducing the number of requests for a stay in Switzerland for humanitarian reasons.
The House of Representatives on Wednesday voted to reduce payments to a basic minimum for all asylum seekers even before their applications are considered by the authorities.
The exact sums asylum seekers would receive vary from canton to canton, but emergency handouts to meet basic living standards are generally less than SFr10 ($10.50) a day, according to media reports.
An alliance of rightwing and centre-right parties also voted to restrict the right of people with official refugee status to invite family members to join them in Switzerland.
The decision came despite opposition from the centre-left and warnings by Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga that the measures went against the country’s humanitarian traditions and would not stop people from seeking a better life in Switzerland.
"Doing away with the right for family asylum will in no way help us reach our policy aims,” she said during a marathon debate.
Protecting refugees, fighting abuses of the law and speeding up the asylum procedure are the three tenets of the latest review of asylum laws, according to Sommaruga.
The debate, which was broadcast live on public television, was marked by several verbal clashes between representatives of the rightwing Swiss People’s Party and members of the centre-left Social Democrats and the Greens.
The House also voted for the creation of special centres for asylum seekers who refuse to cooperate with the Swiss authorities or who are known troublemakers. However, a bid by the rightwing for internment camps was thrown out.
Discussions continued on Thursday as a majority voted to shorten deadlines for rejected asylum seekers to lodge legal appeals but to extend the waiting period for people with temporary refugee status hoping to apply for residence permits.
The bill now returns to the Senate to consider the latest amendments. (...)