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Minister moots tougher asylum rules

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has called for a tightening of asylum regulations as the number of applications rises.

She said Swiss embassies abroad should no longer accept asylum requests, and proceedings within the Federal Migration Office should be made more efficient.

Widmer-Schlumpf said the costs for such a system were too high and the number of requests lodged at Swiss embassies had risen from 980 to 2,652 over the past four years.

Spain and Switzerland are the only European countries which offer such an option, she said in interviews with Sunday newspapers.

Widmer-Schlumpf also criticised her predecessor, Christoph Blocher, known for his hardline stance on asylum, for ignoring reality. He based infrastructure needs on a total of 10,000 asylum requests per year, she said.

The projected annual total for 2008 is about 13,000 applications, while the eight-year average is 17,500.

Last week, the federal authorities announced they would open three additional asylum centres in response to a significant increase in new arrivals.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR