Press release, 8th December 2021

Sad week for temporarily admitted persons: Parliament decides on travel ban

The National Council this week went along with the decision of the Council of States and enshrined a travel ban for temporarily admitted persons in law through the amendment of the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (FNA). HEKS/EPER regrets this decision, which could hold far-reaching implications for temporarily admitted persons.

There are just under 50,000 temporarily admitted people in Switzerland. Among them are people who have fled civil wars, from Syria or Afghanistan, for example. They are often not recognised as refugees in Switzerland, but are accorded only temporary admission status. In many instances the situation of conflict and violence in their countries of origin has now persisted for decades. Those in need of protection cannot therefore return to these countries, and end up staying in Switzerland for long periods. Some 14,000 of the temporarily admitted persons living here have been in Switzerland for more than seven years now, and are being particularly impacted by the travel ban that has been brought in.
    Beratungsstelle für Asylsuchende in Basel
    Annette Boutellier

    Travel ban breaches right to family life

    As things stand, travel authorisations for temporarily admitted persons are already highly restrictive. After the Council of States, the National Council too has now endorsed a proposal by the Federal Council, which enshrines the ban on foreign travel for temporarily admitted persons in law. HEKS/EPER views this restriction of personal freedom (Art. 10, Cst.) and of the right to a family life (Art. 14 Cst.) as disproportionate. There is no recognisable public interest that justifies such a radical encroachment on fundamental rights. On the contrary, the travel ban collectively punishes almost 50,000 people in order to forestall a few isolated cases of abuse. HEKS/EPER firmly rejects such collective punishment, as it leads in some cases to the life-long separation of families. The tightening of the law adopted by Parliament means, for example, that it is no longer possible for an Afghan father to travel to Iran to spend even a short time with the family he has left behind.
    HEKS/EPER knows from its project work, however, just how important it is to the health of refugees and their ability to integrate, to be able to see their family members again after fleeing, and to be able to visit them abroad. HEKS/EPER therefore regrets that the Parliament has not taken these considerations into account.

    Dieter Wüthrich
    Head of Media and Information Department
    Dieter Wüthrich

    Phone: +41 44 360 88 66
    Mobile: +41 76 461 88 70
    E-mail: dieter.wuethrich@heks.ch