With amendments to asylum law, the Swiss government aims to speed up the asylum process, cut costs and ensure a fairer process for asylum seekers.
Current asylum claims can last up to 400 days. The revision sets to cap this at a maximum of 100 days and 140 days in exceptional cases.
During this period, asylum seekers would to be housed in national accommodation centres and be entitled to free legal advice.
People, whose claims aren’t decided within the 140-day time frame, would be relocated across cantons.
Parliamentarians from all parties are in favour of the amendment, with the exception of representatives from the Swiss People’s party, who are against providing asylum seekers with free legal advice. They fear that this could lead to more appeals following asylum refusals and attract economic migrants, instead of genuine refugees.
In addition to reducing costs, the initiators of the amendment – The Federal Council – say it will allow people who are granted asylum, to integrate into society sooner. They also point out that those, who are rejected would be less likely to contest the outcome, due to the legal guidance throughout the process.
Opponents have also criticised the possibility of the confederation forcefully commandeering properties from cantons and communes, if emergency housing is needed. Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, Simonetta Sommaruga, said in an interview with Blick newspaper that this would be a last resort.
The referendum vote is on Sunday 5th June 2016.
Political parties come together on asylum reform except for the Swiss People’s Party (SRF – in German)
By Jade Cano
Jade is a freelance journalist and lives in Geneva. Originally from Colombia, she has lived in the UK and Germany.