Treatment of asylum in Swiss stirs outcry
GENEVA - Agence France-Presse
Asylum seekers stand at the entrance of a military bunker in Switzerland during a press visit by Federal Migration Office at a temporary asylum center. AFP PhotoSwitzerland is facing a barrage of criticism over its treatment of asylum seekers, including charges of segregation and inhumane living conditions.
The controversy first broke last week when federal migration authorities said the small northern town of Bremgarten, with 6,500 residents, had been permitted to deny residents of a new asylum center access to certain public spaces. Initial reports say that the asylum seekers would be barred from the public pool, gyms and even the town library and churches sparked outrage and charges of segregation and discrimination from rights activists. Swiss migration authorities maintain the reports were based on a misunderstanding, insisting the asylum seekers will only have restricted access to so-called “sensitive areas” where access is also restricted to the Swiss public, like schools and sports facilities during school hours.
Denise Graf of Amnesty International’s Swiss section was unconvinced, maintaining that the rules, which require asylum seekers to among other things request permission from the town before accessing the pool, “are clearly discriminatory.” Switzerland is one of the countries in Europe that welcomes the most asylum seekers in proportion to its population.