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European immigration Swiss justice minister slams EU asylum policy

Justice Minister Sommaruga and a little Swiss flag

Justice Minister Sommaruga whose portfolio includes asylum took part in a meeting of EU interior ministers in neighbouring Austria. 

(Keystone)

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has criticised European plans for migrant processing centres in North Africa.

Attending a meeting of European Union interior ministers in Austria on Thursday, Sommaruga said there were “more questions than answers”.

According to senior EU officials, no single country in North Africa is willing set up so called ‘disembarkation platforms’ to stop illegal immigrants, she said.

“Even if it were to happen one day it’s clear to everybody that this won’t solve the problems,” she told reporters. Similar ideas have never been implemented successfully in the past, she added.

Instead, Sommaruga called for a reform of the existing Dublin asylum systems, which includes Switzerland.

She criticised current European asylum policy adding that the heated debate in some EU countries about asylum seekers did not correspond to a relatively low number of immigrants arriving at EU borders.

Ministers on Thursday pledged to increase external border patrols, but there was little mention of a proposal to prevent people from making asylum applications within Europe and to allow them in only if they came from refugee camps.

Observers say the growing support for Europe’s anti-immigration populist movements is putting governments under pressure to fortify European borders.

The meeting in Innsbruck came as Italy refused to disembark a boatload of immigrants after some of them apparently threatened to kill the crew of a cargo vessel that tried to take them back to Libya.

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS; urs

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