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Minister faces criticism over asylum policy

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has rejected criticism by cantonal authorities that asylum procedures are ineffective.

She said it made no sense to blame each other instead of cooperating in coping with the roughly 1,500 North Africans who have applied for asylum in Switzerland since the beginning of the year.

However, she acknowledged that asylum centres have reached their capacity limits and that individual applicants have committed crimes – tarnishing the reputation of the majority of law abiding asylum seekers.

She rejected a demand to close down a centre near the southern border town of Chiasso despite public complaints about a growing number of incidents involving asylum seekers.

Sommaruga said the federal authorities would soon provide additional temporary housing for about 450 immigrants in army facilities to ease pressure on cantons. But more places were needed, she added.

She also warned the problem of criminal asylum seekers would not go away if the federal government were to open more army centres.

“All these facilities will still be on cantonal territory,” she told a news conference.

Centre-right and rightwing politicians have called for stricter border checks and for most of the applicants to be denied access to Swiss territory under a European asylum deal.

In May, Sommaruga announced plans to speed up asylum procedures, hire extra staff and give the federal authorities a greater say on the issue. and agencies


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