The Swiss authorities have announced they are considering the withdrawal of asylum rights of around 2000 refugees from ex-Yugoslavia.
The measure would concern all refugees from the region except those from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina persecuted by the regime of former Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic.
According to Federal Migration Office spokeswoman Marie Avet, the Balkan wars in the 1990s put an end to Milosevic’s regime. The political situation has since changed drastically.
Kosovo, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Slovenia are now independent states. They are considered by the Swiss to be among the countries where human rights are respected.
However, the cancellation of the right of asylum does not mean that these people would have to leave Switzerland, as most of them have a limited or unlimited residence permit.
The concerned parties would have to obtain new passports from their home countries, which could mean travel restrictions for some. Kosovo for example is only recognized by about sixty nations.
The Swiss Refugee Council expressed its shock at what it called a “toughening of asylum rights”.
swissinfo.ch and agencies