Jump to content
Your browser is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this websites. Learn how to update your browser[Close]

Repatriation question

Sommaruga to raise migration issue in Sri Lanka

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga will tackle the issue of repatriating Tamil asylum seekers to Sri Lanka when she visits the country next week. Migration will feature prominently on her trip to Sri Lanka and India.

In July, the State Secretariat for Migration said it would apply more stringent criteria for granting Sri Lankan nationals – mostly ethnic Tamils - refugee status. The decision was taken in light of a perceived improvement in the human rights record by the Sri Lankan authorities.

Switzerland has been criticised in the past for forcing failed asylum seekers to return to Sri Lanka. Human rights groups say that some returnees were arrested and tortured for having suspected links with the Tamil separatist movement.

In March during a visit to Bern, Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister promised repatriated Sri Lankans safe passage when they returned home.

Around 50,000 people from Sri Lanka live in Switzerland, mostly Tamils, who fled the island’s 30-year civil war that ended in 2009. But not all who arrived in Switzerland were allowed to stay, a situation that has alarmed NGOs.

During her visit to Colombo, Sommaruga hopes to formalise a bilateral agreement governing repatriations from Switzerland and to intensify cooperation between the two countries on the issue.

A press statement statement said she would “be meeting with returnees from Switzerland and will visit a project for vocational training and continuing education that receives funding from Switzerland and is also open to returnees from Switzerland.”

In India, Sommaruga will visit a new Swiss visa application centre in New Delhi and will discuss issues surrounding the award of working visas to Indian nationals wishing to take up posts in Switzerland. The number Swiss visas issued to non-European Union workers was in 2014 cut from 8,500 to 6,500 a year.

Most of those visas have already been issued this year, resulting in protests from some cities and business groups. Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann last week went on record as saying he wants such permits to be raised once more to 8,500. The issue will require a cabinet decision.



All rights reserved. The content of the website by swissinfo.ch is copyrighted. It is intended for private use only. Any other use of the website content beyond the use stipulated above, particularly the distribution, modification, transmission, storage and copying requires prior written consent of swissinfo.ch. Should you be interested in any such use of the website content, please contact us via contact@swissinfo.ch.

As regards the use for private purposes, it is only permitted to use a hyperlink to specific content, and to place it on your own website or a website of third parties. The swissinfo.ch website content may only be embedded in an ad-free environment without any modifications. Specifically applying to all software, folders, data and their content provided for download by the swissinfo.ch website, a basic, non-exclusive and non-transferable license is granted that is restricted to the one-time downloading and saving of said data on private devices. All other rights remain the property of swissinfo.ch. In particular, any sale or commercial use of these data is prohibited.