Parliament dismisses call for asylum requests at embassies

The option of applying for asylum at a Swiss embassy in another country could help reduce the number of refugees risking their lives, according to Senator Jositsch and humanitarian organisations. Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

The Senate has rejected a proposal to re-introduce the option to apply for asylum at Swiss embassies abroad.

This content was published on March 15, 2022 - 15:47

Ten years after parliament decided to suspend the right to apply for asylum status at a Swiss embassy, the Senate on Tuesday clearly dismissed a call to re-instate it, brought by Social Democratic senator Daniel Jositsch.

The other chamber of parliament, the House of Representatives, has no say on the motion following the Senate decision.

Opponents argued such a move was impossible to implement and would lead to a wave of asylum requests. They also said the European Union had no similar plans to allow asylum applications at embassies.

Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter, whose portfolio includes immigration issues, said Switzerland offered other possibilities, notably relocation and resettlement programmes as well as humanitarian visas to help people in need.

She warned of “glorifying” a procedure which is launched by applying at a Swiss embassy instead of at the Swiss border. She said embassies might be overrun by a huge number of applicants in crisis regions leading to long waiting lists.


Jositsch, presenting the request in parliament, said the Covid pandemic had worsened the situation for refugees trying to reach a safe haven.

The political left and human rights groups have criticised the Swiss authorities for its current asylum policy. They say many refugees have no other option than to risk their lives by trying to cross the Mediterranean Sea to arrive in Europe.

“Nothing will ever change if we continue the current asylum policy,” Green Party Senator Lisa Mazzone said. “But we have a responsibility, we must take action,” she pleaded.

More than 21,000 people trying to flee to Europe have been killed at sea since 2014, according to Jositsch.

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