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Ticino tensions


Swiss politician and driver arrested over illegal immigrants


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A parliamentarian from canton Ticino and a man from Bern were arrested on Thursday, accused of helping four young African migrants to illegally enter Switzerland’s southern canton from Italy.

Lisa Bosia Mirra, who is a member of the Ticino cantonal parliament and the founder of a refugee support group Firdaus, was arrested in Stabio in canton Ticino. She was later released, the cantonal police and Ticino public prosecutor’s office confirmed.

The cantonal police accuse her and a man from canton Bern of assisting four young Africans to illegally cross the border into Switzerland in a van driven by the 53-year-old man. He was also arrested and remains in detention. An investigation has been opened.

Mirra, 43, was in Chiasso on Wednesday taking part in a press conference organised by NGOs worried about the plight of several hundred migrants who have been staying in Como, Italy, since July after a Swiss clampdown on crossings.

Build-up

Switzerland’s border with Italy has become a flashpoint in Europe’s migrant crisis, with a build-up of people along Italy’s frontier.

Swiss cabinet minister Ueli Maurer has defended the work of Swiss border guards saying asylum seekers trying to transit Switzerland were being returned to Italy in accordance with the law.

Swiss authorities have blamed the build-up along the Italian border on an influx of African migrants seeking passage to north European countries such as Germany. Most of the thousands of migrants who have tried to reach Switzerland through Ticino were turned back since early July.

But Mirra, along with other NGOs like Amnesty International, criticises the Swiss authorities for their treatment of unaccompanied minors trying to enter Switzerland via Italy. They have asked the Swiss authorities to clarify their policies including the handling of children who are sent back to Italy and prevented from joining family members in Switzerland.

The Swiss-branch of Amnesty International says Switzerland is disregarding the rights of children and adolescents on the border.

Amnesty International says Swiss authorities are obliged to follow the UN convention on children’s rights by properly identifying unaccompanied boys and girls – each of whom has a right to apply for asylum at the Swiss border – and then allowing them to reunite with their families.

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