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Failure to handle Iraqi asylum cases “illegal”

The Federal Migration Office violated asylum law when it ignored asylum applications lodged by Iraqis in Syria and Egypt, an external inquiry has found.

Former federal judge Michel Féraud submitted his final report to the government on December 22; the cabinet released details of the report on Wednesday.

The report concluded that by deciding not to process applications from Iraqis at the Swiss embassies in Damascus and Cairo during a period between 2006 and 2008, the migration office “violated the rules of procedure defined in the asylum legislation, as well as guarantees of due process enshrined in the Constitution”.

During this time, some 7,000-10,000 asylum applications from Iraqi citizens were received but  were put to one side and not dealt with for several years.

The matter came to light in August 2011 prompting the Swiss Justice Ministry to commission an external report.

Féraud said that around 3,000 outstanding applications were still legally valid and should be processed by the end of 2013.  

The report also revealed that the migration office should have informed the then Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf  about the non-processing decision. Widmer-Schlumpf’s successor, Simonetta Sommaruga, should also have been informed.

It added, however, that no disciplinary action should be taken due to the lapse of time and because officials did not commit the crime of abuse of authority.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR