On 5 June 2016, the Swiss electorate voted on the amendment to the Asylum Act (AsylA), proposed on 25 September 2015.
Key points in brief
Long asylum procedures are arduous and costly. They are a burden on the cantons and communes and, in many cases, asylum seekers are left in a state of uncertainty for years. This is unsatisfactory for everyone involved. The amendment to the Asylum Act thus aims at speeding up asylum procedures.
Procedure in federal accommodation
An efficient, systematic and fair asylum policy requires asylum applications to be processed rapidly. The Confederation has drafted a bill to speed up these procedures in coordination with the cantons, the Swiss Union of Cities and the Association of Swiss Communes. The bill proposes that the majority of asylum procedures should be completed in federal asylum centres within 140 days.
Clear approval in 2013
In principle, Swiss voters already clearly approved introducing faster asylum procedures in June 2013. Furthermore, they stated that accelerated procedures should be evaluated in a test phase. This test phase has been completed in a pilot project in Zurich, and the results are positive – evaluations by independent experts show that applications are processed much faster, while the complaint rate has remained low.
A referendum has been launched opposing accelerated asylum procedures. Opponents criticise in particular the free legal aid that is provided to asylum seekers and the simplified approval procedures for establishing federal asylum centres.
Position of the Federal Council and Parliament
The Federal Council and Parliament both recommend approving this amendment to the Asylum Act. Rapid asylum procedures are the key to a systematic and fair asylum policy. Individuals who are in fear of their life or have escaped a war zone receive protection, while anyone seeking asylum without fulfilling these conditions must leave the country. The proposed amendment to the Asylum Act reinforces this principle.
Last modification 24.01.2022