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Government policy towards foreign residents criticised

The Federal Aliens Commission (pictured) says the government must do more to integrate foreign residents, who account for about 20 per cent of the population. The commission said more and more foreigners are choosing to remain in Switzerland.

This content was published on March 27, 2000 - 15:50

The Federal Aliens Commission says the government must do more to integrate foreign residents, who account for about 20 per cent of the population. In a 100-page report, the commission said more and more foreigners are choosing to remain in Switzerland.

The authors of the report said this required a fundamental change in federal policy.

The commission said although the issue of integration has been part of Switzerland's foreigners policy for 30 years, the government has not shown the will to improve the situation. Cantonal and town officials have been left alone to deal with the problem, criticised the report.

It said integration could only be achieved if immigrants are given equal opportunities and a voice in political matters. If not, the commission said, there could be a dangerous rise in tensions between Swiss nationals and foreign residents, particularly during times of economic recession.

Among the report's recommendations:

- make clearer distinction between integration and asylum issues
- ease residency permit requirements
- give foreign residents a conditional right-of-return within three years of departure
- create special radio and television programmes for immigrants
- set up an ombudsman's office for integration

The commission found itself in the spotlight in January when its head and several members resigned, saying it had lost much of its independence through a reorganisation in the justice ministry.

swissinfo with agencies

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