Swiss change policy for returning refugees

Recognized refugees returning to their country of origin will not lose their refugee status if they can prove they had to go there. Keystone

Recognized refugees who return to their home countries will lose their refugee status in Switzerland, but some exceptions will still be allowed, parliament has decided. 

This content was published on December 12, 2018 - 17:07

The House of Representatives had voted narrowly at the end of September for an automatic withdrawal of refugee status. However, on Wednesday it approved by 199 votes to 66 a move by the Senate to allow exceptions if the refugee could show that they were obliged to return to the country of origin. 

This enshrines into law rules that already exist, reversing the burden of proof. 

Only the conservative right Swiss People’s Party voted against any exceptions. “Swiss asylum policy needs to be guaranteed a minimum of credibility,” argued parliamentarian Jean-Luc Addor. Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga commented that to outlaw any exceptions would be “inhumane”. 

The two houses of parliament have already agreed measures with regard to refugees who travel to countries bordering their own. To avoid, for example, Eritreans travelling back home via Ethiopia, the authorities can ban travel to certain countries for all refugees of a given origin but authorize exceptions.

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