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Asylum centre standards largely up to par, report finds

football refugee centre
A football game at the Boudry asylum centre, canton Neuchâtel. © KEYSTONE / LAURENT GILLIERON

Conditions in Swiss asylum centres generally conform to fundamental rights standards, the national torture prevention commission has found. But there is still room for improvement.

The National Commission for the Prevention of TortureExternal link (NCPT), a government-appointed expert body, released its report (in French/German)External link on Friday after a series of inspections of asylum centres across the country in 2017 and 2018.

Overall, it found, conditions were positive; it particularly highlighted for praise the spring 2017 decision to reverse a ban on mobile phones in centres. Most also now offer wireless internet access.

+ How asylum seekers integrate into a new life in Switzerland

Several areas remain problematic, however.

In most centres, the Commission found, security officers subjected all adult residents to a body search whenever they returned from an outside visit; in one case, children were also searched. Such practices should only be necessary in case of concrete suspicions, the NCPT wrote.

When it comes to disciplinary actions, the NCPT found that a verbal notification of the procedure is legally insufficient. A written notification outlining the details of the case, as well as all options for appeal, is necessary.

The Commission also noted that staff in federal asylum centres did not have precise instructions about how to identify, and deal with, residents who may have been victims of human trafficking.

Finally, though the medical examination of each arriving resident was praised, the NCPT said that access to psychiatric care was rare and confined to the most urgent cases.


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