World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search


Swiss Asylum Laws Reform Draw UN Concerns

UN Refugee Agency Concerned At Proposed Changes To Swiss Asylum Laws

The United Nations refugee agency expressed concern today over proposed changes to Switzerland’s asylum laws, warning they may breach international conventions at a time when the number of asylum-seekers across Europe has fallen rapidly.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is particularly worried that people who cannot provide valid identity or travel documents promptly will not have access to regular asylum procedures and will not be allowed to claim humanitarian status if the reforms go ahead, spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis said.

Briefing reporters in Geneva, Ms. Pagonis said UNHCR has submitted its comments about the planned changes to Switzerland’s Federal Office for Refugees as part of its role to supervise national and international laws affecting refugees.

She said UNHCR’s submission included several measures designed to improve the efficiency of the asylum system without jeopardizing principle of fairness.

UNHCR is concerned that many refugees who do not have identity or travel documents for valid reasons may be punished under the proposals. In many cases, refugees cannot obtain papers before they flee their homeland or the papers were either confiscated by authorities or never issued in the first place.

Other genuine refugees have their identity or travel documents stolen or destroyed by people-smuggling networks, Ms. Pagonis said.

The agency said it fears the changes could breach both the spirit and the letter of the 1951 UN Convention on the rights and status of refugees.

Earlier this year UNHCR released figures showing an 18 per cent slump in the number of people seeking asylum in Europe between the first quarter of this year and the last three months of 2003, part of a worldwide trend that started two years ago.

Ms. Pagonis said “there appears to be no need for governments to focus so single-mindedly on restrictive revisions of their asylum laws.” To reduce numbers, receiver countries should devote more energy to solving problems in the regions where asylum-seekers have fled, she added.

© Scoop Media

World Headlines


Preliminary Results: MH17 Investigation Report

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT) is convinced of having obtained irrefutable evidence to establish that on 17 July 2014, flight MH-17 was shot down by a BUK missile from the 9M38-series. According to the JIT there is also evidence identifying the launch location that involves an agricultural field near Pervomaiskyi which, at the time, was controlled by pro-Russian fighters. More>>


At The UN: Paris Climate Agreement Moves Closer To Entry Into Force

The Paris Agreement on climate change moved closer toward entering into force in 2016 as 31 more countries joined the agreement today at a special event hosted by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The End Game In Spain (And Other World News)

The coverage of international news seems almost entirely dependent on a random selection of whatever some overseas news agency happens to be carrying overnight... Here are a few interesting international stories that have largely flown beneath the radar this past week. More>>

Amnesty/Human Rights Watch: Appalling Abuse, Neglect Of Refugees On Nauru

Refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru, most of whom have been held there for three years, routinely face neglect by health workers and other service providers who have been hired by the Australian government, as well as frequent unpunished assaults by local Nauruans. More>>


Other Australian Detention

Gordon Campbell: On The Censorship Havoc In South Africa’s State Broadcaster

Demands have included an order to staff that there should be no further negative news about the country’s President Jacob Zuma, and SABC camera operators responsible for choosing camera angles that have allegedly made the President ‘look shorter’ were to be retrained... More>>


Gordon Campbell: On A Bad Week For Malcolm Turnbull, And The Queen

Malcolm Turnbull’s immediate goal – mere survival – is still within his grasp... In every other respect though, this election has been a total disaster for the Liberals. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news