FSPC opposes tightening of asylum laws

The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches recommends the adoption of a referendum against the revision of asylum laws. Refugees must be guaranteed fair asylum procedures.

The Federation of Swiss Protestant Churches recommends the adoption of today’s referendum against the revision of asylum laws. In a recently published position paper, the FSPC rejects the “hasty revisions of asylum law,” which already have gone into effect.

It is the conviction of the FSPC that refugees must be guaranteed fair and just asylum procedures, as this is a matter of protecting people who are truly in need of protection.

Under the revised legislation it is no longer possible to apply for asylum in a Swiss embassy abroad. Now only those with adequate financial means will be able to effectively make their way to Switzerland. Previously, people looking for protection were able to apply for asylum without having to resort to enlisting the services of refugee smugglers and entering the country illegally. The EU’s external borders are highly secured, making entry extremely difficult. Thousands of refugees never make it to Europe, with many of them losing their lives while crossing the Mediterranean.

The FSPC expressed concerns regarding plans to reduce the appeal period for asylum seekers from 30 days to 10 days. It is necessary to significantly improve legal protection for asylum seekers, including safe access to legal consultation and additional government funding for legal consultation offices. So far, most financial support for these offices has been provided by the churches and their relief organizations.

The FSPC is critical of plans to establish centers to house asylum seekers who “pose a threat to public order or significantly disrupt the operation of intake centers.” It remains unclear what criteria will be used to assign refugees to such centers and how long they would be detained there.

On a more positive note, the FSPC applauds the plan to provide financial support to employment programs in the intake and processing centers. For years, the FSPC has argued for the necessity of creating more employment programs in the centers.

The churches assist asylum seekers after they arrive in Switzerland, offering pastoral assistance in the intake and processing centers and providing significant support for the legal consultation offices. In its 2011-2014 legislative goals, the FSPC expressed its commitment to preserve human dignity in migration policy. The FSPC is keeping a close eye on revisions of asylum laws and generally rejects any efforts to make them stricter.