Switzerland has announced plans to assess the possibility of deporting asylum seekers to third countries, in response to discussions within the European Union regarding asylum deportations.

The assessment will evaluate the compatibility of such practices with Swiss law and international obligations.

The decision to conduct this review follows a postulate submitted by parliamentarian Andrea Caroni, urging the Federal Council to reconsider its stance on asylum procedures abroad. Previously, the Council deemed such procedures impractical and legally challenging.

The context for this evaluation is the ongoing EU asylum reform, which proposes conducting asylum procedures at the external borders of the Schengen area.

Caroni justified his postulate by pointing to the growing trend among EU countries to conduct asylum procedures closer to the refugees' countries of origin. The report will also address the issue of deporting individuals to third countries.

In a related development, parliamentarian Petra Gössi has proposed negotiating a transit agreement to facilitate the deportation of Eritreans with rejected asylum applications. However, the Federal Council has opposed this demand, citing concerns about the feasibility of such agreements.

The Council highlighted a previous transit agreement negotiated with Senegal, which was never implemented. According to the Council, this agreement would have allowed transit for a maximum of 72 hours, during which time travel documents would be obtained. If repatriation was not feasible, Switzerland would have been obliged to take back the individuals in transit.

Despite challenges, the Federal Council noted improvements in cooperation with Eritrea, resulting in a slight decrease in the number of Eritreans facing deportation. However, it emphasized the importance of continuing cooperation with countries of origin.

While a similar proposal was previously approved by the Senate, it was ultimately rejected by the House of Representatives. The issue remains a topic of debate within Switzerland's legislative bodies. Photo by Ggia, Wikimedia commons.