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Number of fast-tracked asylum cases dwindles

Keystone / Francesca Agosta

After criticism by rights groups and two warnings from a federal court, Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) has been cutting back the number of accelerated asylum procedures.

This content was published on July 22, 2021 - 16:58
Keystone-SDA/SRF/dos

On Thursday SEM confirmed a report by Swiss public radio, SRF, noting that the accelerated cases had been slowing down, with longer procedures becoming correspondingly more common.

Between March and December 2019, 2,523 cases were accelerated; for the whole of 2020 (a year when asylum applications generally plummeted owing to the pandemic) the number was 2,629; for the first half of 2021 it was 1,369.

At the same time, full procedures have been increasing: from 453 in 2019 to 1,575 in 2020 and already 1,535 in 2021.

A full hearing can last around a year. The accelerated procedure is limited to 140 days, after which rejected cases have seven days to file an appeal.

Criticism

The Federal Administrative Court has twice reprimanded SEM for unjustifiably sending cases to the accelerated track, whose goal is to avoid drawn-out procedures which keep asylum-seekers waiting, without the possibility to work or integrate into society.

Last year the head of the Swiss Refugee Council said the system was not working as well as hoped and that “authorities [were] putting the focus on speeding up the process, to the detriment of quality and fairness”.

On Thursday SEM told the Keystone-SDA news agency that since the launch of the accelerated system in 2019, it had clarified and tightened the criteria for fast-tracking a case.

The Swiss public supported the accelerated procedures in a nationwide referendum in 2016.

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