Basic principles of asylum legislation

Swiss asylum policy incorporates the basic principles of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

Central points of Federal asylum policy

  • Any person who is threatened or persecuted in accordance with criteria recognized under international law will be granted asylum in Switzerland.
  • Switzerland endeavours to provide rapid assistance in situ to people suffering in regions affected by war or disaster. Switzerland participates in joint campaigns undertaken by the international community to support population groups in distress.
  • Should aid measures be impossible in the regions affected due to the acute danger there, Switzerland offers temporary refuge within her own borders to the groups of persons concerned.
  • Parallel to this, through co-operation with our international partners, the Federal Council undertakes sustained efforts to effectively curb the causes of flight and involuntary migration.

Asylum proceedings clarify whether there is a right to protection. It is the duty of asylum proceedings to identify those asylum seekers among the new arrivals who are entitled to protection under the terms defined above. Many asylum seekers cannot be classified as refugees or persons displaced by war. On the basis of their situation, they clearly belong to the group of migrants. They are in search of a better place to live in Switzerland. Knowing that they would hardly obtain an entry or work permit, they cross the border illegally. Many of them invent a dramatic story of persecution for the hearing by the authorities. With such tactics they hope to be granted refugee status. From the viewpoint of the person concerned this behaviour is understandable, from the perspective of asylum legislation it constitutes abuse of asylum proceedings. The authorities must reject such applications without delay and execute removal systematically, making asylum proceedings unattractive for foreigners seeking employment. Abusive and ill-founded asylum applications are processed with priority. Currently the majority of asylum applications are processed by the Federal Office for Refugees within three months. Applications filed by persons who have committed a criminal offence during their stay in Switzerland or whose behaviour demonstrates that they are obviously not willing to adapt to the rules of our society are processed even more expeditiously if possible.

Socio-political principles in asylum affairs

  • The community exercises its political responsibility for people from the asylum sector and attempts to bring about social co-existence together with the asylum seekers in a combined effort of all concerned.
  • The living conditions of people from the asylum sector correspond to fundamental socio-political values.
  • Rejected asylum seekers should be able to leave Switzerland fortified, having during their stay had the opportunity to acquire skills and values and to develop perspectives for their future life
  • The interaction between the society of the host country and those persons having the temporary right to stay in Switzerland is to be ensured.

The Geneva Convention offered single persons and groups better protection against political repression, persecution, violence and racism. The core of the Convention defines who is to be considered a refugee with the right to claim protection from the Signatory States. It moreover stipulates that nobody may be sent back to a country in which he or she would be exposed to the above-listed dangers. This ban on refoulement also applies to situations in which persons risk torture or inhuman treatment.


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