Anwaltschaft für sozial Benachteiligte
Luca da Campo

Equal rights for all

Advocacy for asylum seekers and the socially disadvantaged

HEKS/EPER stands up for equal rights and opportunities and in so doing firmly rejects all forms of discrimination. Its work is geared specifically towards enabling all people to claim their legitimate rights and play a part in Switzerland's economic, social, cultural and political life. The activities of HEKS/EPER revolve around asylum seekers and refugees, sans-papiers (undocumented persons) as well as people facing discrimination. They are all especially vulnerable to abuses of their rights as well as to social exclusion. HEKS/EPER advocates on behalf of these people and endeavours to support them in claiming their rights and improving their lot.

Legal advice for asylum seekers and refugees

HEKS/EPER strives to secure Switzerland's protection for people who, should they return to their country of origin or to a third country, would be in existential danger whether for medical reasons, owing to violence and war, the absence of a social welfare network or to deliberate persecution. With financial support from Cantonal Reformed and Catholic Churches, HEKS/EPER operates seven legal advice offices for asylum seekers and refugees. The legal experts on hand are committed to ensuring an asylum procedure that is fair and in keeping with the law. In this way they ensure protection of the rights corresponding to asylum seekers under federal and international law.

Anwaltschaft für Asylbewerber und sozial Benachteiligte
Annette Boutellier

Advice and legal representation for asylum seekers in the FACs

The revised Asylum Act took effect on 1 March 2019 and introduced the accelerated, decentralized asylum procedure. The asylum procedure is now to take place considerably more quickly while still fully complying with the law. To this end, six regions were established, where most of asylum procedures at federal asylum centres (FACs) will in future be conducted and concluded within 140 days. As before, persons whose asylum application requires further investigation will be distributed among the cantons (extended procedure). 
HEKS/EPER has been mandated by the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) to provide advice and legal representation as well as interpreting services for the procedures taking place in the regions of Eastern Switzerland and North-western Switzerland. The introduction of the new asylum procedure accords asylum seekers an entitlement to legal protection. Specifically, this guarantees independent advice on rights and duties under the asylum procedure, and legal representation as from the start of the preparatory phase and throughout subsequent stages of the procedure. Interpreters are provided to ensure that conversations with asylum seekers can take place without problems of comprehension.
Rechtsberatungsstelle für Asylsuchende St. Gallen/Appenzell
Annette Boutellier

Advice against racism and discrimination 

Discrimination because of origin, skin colour, religion, lifestyle or language exists in all spheres of life in our society. HEKS/EPER advocates for people at a disadvantage in society, whether in house-hunting, at their workplace, at school or in their dealings with authorities. People are sometimes also unjustly accused of being “racist”. In Eastern Switzerland HEKS/EPER offers counselling programmes for institutions and persons who have questions about protection from discrimination, are affected by racial discrimination or are accused of racial discrimination.

HEKS Beratungsstelle gegen Rassismus und Diskriminierung

Commitment to sans papiers

The sans papiers live in Switzerland without legal residency status. To secure their livelihood and that of their family in Switzerland and in their country of origin, they have no choice but to work under legally, economically and socially precarious conditions. HEKS/EPER strives to ensure that sans-papiers too can claim their rights and are protected against discrimination.
Engagement für Sans-Papiers
Luca da Campo

Social and political action and outreach

HEKS/EPER is aware that besides project work, lasting change also calls for structural improvements to the general conditions in which people live. HEKS/EPER therefore supplements project work for the benefit of the socially underprivileged with targeted and well-founded social and political action and outreach. The aim is to bring the concerns of the socially underprivileged to the attention of political, economic and social players with a view to improving their lot. HEKS/EPER closely monitors societal trends in Switzerland. The agency also joins networks in order to communicate its concerns more effectively.

Gesellschaftspolitisches Engagement und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Sabine Buri

Project examples

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