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Parliament votes to toughen asylum law

Rejected asylum seekers will no longer receive social welfare

(Keystone)

The House of Representatives has followed the Senate in tightening Switzerland's asylum law, despite a threat by the centre-left to force a referendum on the issue.

The House on Monday agreed to drop admission on humanitarian grounds along with social welfare for rejected asylum seekers. Only emergency aid is being retained.

After winning approval from the Senate, the rightwing justice minister Christoph Blocher succeeded in having his revision of the law on asylum seekers easily adopted.

The centre-right majority rejected by 107 votes to 76 the introduction of admission on humanitarian grounds, opting instead to work within the current system of provisional admission.

Asylum seekers admitted on a provisional basis will not have the right to bring their families to Switzerland until three years have passed.

Provisional admission

Provisional admission will be granted when return to the country of origin represents a concrete danger to the person, notably in case of war, conflict or medical distress. The cantons will retain the right to define conditions for difficult cases.

The House also ruled out social welfare for rejected asylum seekers, by 109 votes to 77. The majority found that a one-year trial period had been positive.

The aim of this measure is to speed up deportation of rejected asylum seekers. Cantons will be allocated SFr15,000 ($11,567) per case, to allow them to provide emergency assistance to rejected asylum seekers who are still in the country.

However, the chamber backed down from cancelling any emergency assistance to those who do not want to leave Switzerland after a negative decision, in line with a Federal Court ruling.

The issue will now return to the Senate for further debate.

In another vote on Tuesday, the House of Representatives raised the maximum detention period for foreigners awaiting deportation to 18 months for adults and nine months for minors over 15.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

Asylum requests 2004: 14,248
Cases processed: 19,157
Asylum granted: 1,555
Provisional admission: 4,198
Departures and forced returns: 19,730

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