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Swiss voters in favour of new asylum laws

Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved federal legislation on asylum policy – an issue that has become highly controversial in recent months because of the Kosovo crisis and the resulting refugee migration.

This content was published on June 11, 1999 - 17:16

Swiss voters overwhelmingly approved federal legislation on asylum policy – an issue that has become highly controversial in recent months because of the Kosovo crisis and the resulting refugee migration.

Just over 70 percent of those who cast their ballot were in favour of replacing a law that was 20 years old.

The new legislation tightens up the asylum procedure and cuts costs, but it above all provides a comprehensive solution for cases where large parts of a population flee from fighting.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is an example, and more recently the large influx of Kosovo Albanians into Switzerland.

Under the new law, Kosovo Albanians who flee to Switzerland can now be given what is termed temporary protection -- without the refugees having to go through the whole asylum-seeking process.

However, as soon as peace prevails in their country, the refugees will, as in the case of the Bosnians, have to return home.

The second asylum vote issue that was approved concerns new regulations to fight abuse and misuse of the asylum procedure itself.

The new regulations say that asylum seekers who have no identity papers -- and can provide no plausible explanation for this -- are not eligible to enter Switzerland under the asylum procedure.

The same rule would apply to illegal migrants, who sometimes try to avoid deportation by claiming asylum, when in fact they may be in trouble with the police.

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