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Swiss to speed up processing of asylum seekers

The Swiss Refugee Council says it is important to offer legal counsel to asylum seekers at the border (SRI)

(swissinfo.ch)

The Federal Refugee Office has announced new, faster measures to deal with asylum seekers. By 2002, a third of all asylum requests will be immediately processed at the border.

Spokesman, Dominique Boillat, said the new procedure would include a more thorough interviewing process at points of entry, as well as improved methods of verifying the legitimacy of an asylum seeker.

"More and more people are coming to Switzerland without a true asylum motive but because they are seeking work," Boillat told swissinfo.

Under the new system, the government hopes to weed out bogus asylum seekers, who are just looking for employment, from people who are fleeing persecution.

However, the non-governmental Swiss Refugee Council is concerned that in speeding up the processing of requests, many genuine asylum seekers will be turned away at the border.

The watchgroup's press officer, Jürg Schertenleib, told swissinfo that for the new system to work effectively, it needed to be fair.

"We think it's important to have a quick asylum procedure but we also want to be able to offer legal consultation to asylum seekers at the registration centres on the border."

The Federal Refugee Office says the rapid processing system will only be used in clear-cut cases where there is no doubt about the illegitimacy of an asylum request. For instance, people who present false identity cards or who do not speak the language of the country they claim to be coming from.


by Anna Nelson and Sally Mules


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