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Swiss asylum policy concerning Tamils unaffected despite raising concerns at UNHRC

The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) in Switzerland states that there will be no changes to the Swiss asylum policy towards Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka, stating that there is “currently no reason to assume a general risk of danger in Sri Lanka or that entire ethnic groups were at risk” according to Swiss Info.  

“Therefore, the return practice of Sri Lankan nationals without regular residence in Switzerland has not changed; the SEM continues to examine each individual case carefully and precisely. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, repatriations are delayed, but a general suspension is currently not planned.” - SEM

The news comes as the United Nations Human Rights Council passed a resolution on accountability and justice in Sri Lanka earlier this week.

Switzerland raised its concerns at the Human Rights Council this month, calling on the Sri Lankan government to implement the recommendations in the UN High Commissioner’s report, stating that it “remains deeply concerned by this impunity in the face of international crimes and grave violations of human rights suspected to have been committed more than ten years ago” and that Sri Lanka remained in a “state of denial of the past”, as well as encouraging “the Human Rights Council to take new steps in favour of victims and justice in Sri Lanka."

Last month, the Swiss Refugee Council (OSAR) asked Swiss authorities to stop the deportation of refugees back to Sri Lanka, due to the country’s “deteriorating” situation.

In their statement, OSAR called on the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) to carefully analyse the deteriorating situation in Sri Lanka and to adapt its asylum procedures accordingly; as well as to suspend the expulsion of refugees to Sri Lanka, until a migration partnership with conditions founded by “good governance” among other values is established.

“OSAR is very concerned about these developments and the deteriorating situation in the country. The UN report explicitly recommends that member states of the UN Human Rights Council review their asylum practices towards Sri Lanka in order to ensure that asylum seekers with subject to a decision be subjected to torture and serious human rights violations upon their return. OSAR supports this call” – OSAR

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