Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga has signed diplomatic visa and migration accords during her working visit to India.
The first agreement, signed with Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh, “facilitates the freedom of diplomatic travellers and also favours cooperation with India”, the Swiss justice ministry said in a statement on Thursday. The ministry added that the agreement strengthens Switzerland’s position as a host nation for international organisations.
The second accord regulates joint cooperation relating to the identification of people who do not meet conditions for a legal stay in the state in which they find themselves. Only a few such cases per year concern Swiss travellers, but the agreement should still prove valuable, since it has historically been a long and complicated process to identify individuals and provide them with valid Indian travel documents. It’s the first time that India has signed an agreement of this kind.
Sommaruga also met India's minister of law and justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad. Their talks focused on the ongoing free trade agreement being negotiated between India and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), as well as the protection of intellectual property. Legal assistance, human rights and tax cooperation were also discussed.
India is an important migration partner for Switzerland. Over the past ten years India has led statistics for labour admissions to Switzerland from non-European countries: 1,700 authorisations a year. Nearly one-fifth of visas issued by Switzerland for tourist or business trips are to Indians.
Before her visit to India, Sommaruga was in Sri Lanka, where she signed a cooperation agreement on immigration. She will return to Switzerland on Friday.
swissinfo.ch and agencies