Navigation

Skiplink Navigation

Main Features

Campaigners take fresh approach in fight for foreigners' rights

Two Swiss human rights groups have formed a new movement to take up the cudgels on behalf of asylum seekers and migrants. The news comes against a backdrop of increasing concern about the rights and treatment of foreigners living in Switzerland.

Two Swiss human rights groups have formed a new movement to take up the cudgels on behalf of asylum seekers and migrants. The news comes against a backdrop of increasing concern about the rights and treatment of foreigners living in Switzerland.

The new organisation, called "Solidarité sans frontières", was formed from the merger of Asylum Coordination Switzerland and the Movement for an open, democratic and united Switzerland.

It will be headed by former Basel parliamentarian, Margrith von Felten, and can draw on the support of 10,000 members and backers.

The movement says it formed in response to "hardening attitudes towards migrants and asylum seekers". It says it will fight divisive politics with a view to creating a civil society in which everyone is regarded and treated equally.

It says it will begin by pushing for laws to give all migrants full social, economic and cultural rights. Its first concrete step will be to launch a petition, demanding the repeal of an employment ban on asylum seekers.

The creation of the new movement comes at a sensitive time. Last month, the European Union criticised Switzerland's naturalisation policies, saying they could result in discriminatory practices.

Just days before, residents of the town of Emmen in central Switzerland voted to refuse citizenship to a group of applicants from eastern Europe and the Balkans. Yet they accepted applications from eight Italians, whose requests were voted on at the same time.

The issue of foreigners is likely to polarise Switzerland even further in the coming months. In May, Swiss voters cast their ballots on closer ties with the European Union. One of the most contentious accords involved is that governing the free movement of people.

swissinfo and agencies

×