The Federal Administrative Court has urged the Swiss government to examine whether refugees should be sent back to Hungary under the European Union’s Dublin accord. More than 200 people are reported to be affected by the measure.
On Friday, the Swiss court annulled the transfer of an asylum seeker from Switzerland to Hungary, arguing that the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) should take into account the eastern European state’s stricter migration policy since 2015.
According to the figures provided to Swiss public television, RTS, the ruling concerns 202 people who have been refused asylum in Switzerland under Dublin accord provisions.
Under the Dublin agreement rules, the member state where asylum seekers first apply for protection is responsible for examining their claims. This allows Switzerland – which is not an EU member but which applies the Dublin agreement - to send an asylum seeker back to another European state from where they transited. Switzerland is known around Europe for its rigorous application of the accord.
Some 1.6 million migrants and refugees have crossed the Mediterranean and entered the EU since in 2014, mostly fleeing conflicts or poverty in the Middle East and Africa. The EU proposed in 2015 redistributing just 120,000 of them to help relieve pressure on frontline states Italy and Greece but ran into fierce resistance from ex-communist countries, such as Hungary and Poland.
The EU has stepped up pressure on both countries to take in asylum seekers under the bloc's migration plan or risk legal action if their reluctant governments refuse. Hungary has toughened access and welcome conditions for asylum seekers and built barbed wire fences on its borders. It threatens to deport anyone entering the country illegally.
In March, Hungary approved a law to detain migrants in border camps, a step which the United Nations said violated EU law and would have a "terrible physical and psychological impact" on asylum seekers.
The Swiss court said in view of the current situation, the SEM was the only organization able to evaluate the asylum cases in Switzerland.