Migration on the Swiss South border – rules also apply for migrants

Migration on the Swiss South border – rules also apply for migrants

by Dr jur Marianne Wüthrich

In Current Concerns No 19 of 30 August 2016 it was explained that the Swiss Borders Guard and the State Secretariat for Migration are undertaking their challenging task correctly and in accordance with the Swiss legal system and the Treaty of Schengen/Dublin, and that they deal fairly and reasonably with those people who want to cross the Swiss border without valid documents (“Migrants at the Swiss South border – Inventory from the Swiss perspective”). Thanks to Ticino Council of State president Norman Gobbi as well as to others in positions of responsibility, who expressed themselves very clearly on this subject – the federal authorities acted with great transparency and unwaveringly rejected allegations without objective justification – former wild claims have now practically ceased.

What lesson can we learn from this?

It is pleasant that Swiss authorities and politicians have for once remained upright, and calmly and with certainty defended the fact that they abide by the rules of Swiss legislation as well as by international treaties and, of course, also by the provisions of the Geneva refugee convention. Many citizens would wish that Swiss politicians were to answer in plain terms to all sorts of requests and impositions from Switzerland and elsewhere, and that they were to conduct discussions with representatives of major powers on an equal footing. There is no reason for us Swiss either to apologise abroad for decisions taken by the people or indeed to buckle at once at every slightly more arrogant tone coming from the headquarters in Brussels or Washington. A little more self-confidence would well befit us! That is what we can learn from this matter.

Abuse of the right of asylum cannot be tolerated

However, the consistent enforcement of the law by the Swiss authorities has led to the emergence of an entirely different problem: Today it seems clear to the persons desiring entry that because of their lack of legal entitlement they have practically no means of entering Switzerland. Yet apparently not only food and clothes have been distributed at the Como camp, but also advice has been given as to how they would best be able to achieve their illegal goals. In any case, there have been more and more migrants who untruthfully tell border guards that they intend to apply for asylum. Then, once they are in the country, they seize the first available opportunity of disappearing and travelling to the north – or wherever they want to go – under their own steam.
20 to 40 per cent of those persons who allegedly wanted to apply for asylum have disappeared in the past three months without having been controlled! According to the asylum statistics of the end of July more than 4,800 uncontrolled departures have been registered since the beginning of the year. Most of the migrants are from Africa. According to the spokeswoman for the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), Céline Kohlprath, it is not new that asylum seekers leave without control before their asylum applications are formally fully registered, but that previously there were not so many who had gone to the ground. The federal authorities assume that most of them are on their way to Germany (daily press according to sda of 5 September 2016).
The reception centres for asylum seekers are, of course, no prisons. It is true that persons applying for entry at the Chiasso centre are registered as quickly as possible, so that their personal information may be recorded, but in the case of a big run they are brought to other centres of reception and procedure in buses, as a precautionary measure to prevent them from disappearing on the way. Nevertheless, many are apparently successful in doing exactly this, because in Switzerland, as in all democratic states, a person may only be imprisoned if he or she is under suspicion of a criminal act. Switzerland is a free country ...
But what happens when people who move about in our country – 4,800 since the beginning of this year! – abuse this freedom and the rule of law? What are the consequences we must take if some of them not only travel to the North illegally on their search for a job but hatch very different and more sinister plans? These questions must be answered in the near future, not only in Switzerland, but also in the European Union. Fact is, that the Schengen-Dublin system does not work, that it is useless. Fact is also that those national states which have taken the matter in hand, for example Hungary or Austria, are a lot more successful than the Frontex, which is supposed to protect the external borders, for example those of the Mediterranean countries. If a huge country like Australia can successfully protect its almost endless external borders against unauthorized access by the sea, should not we Europeans also be able to at least come closer to a solution than we are at the moment?    •

Our website uses cookies so that we can continually improve the page and provide you with an optimized visitor experience. If you continue reading this website, you agree to the use of cookies. Further information regarding cookies can be found in the data protection note.

If you want to prevent the setting of cookies (for example, Google Analytics), you can set this up by using this browser add-on.​​​​​​​