MENAFN - Arab News
Swiss to vote on tightening of asylum law, again
(MENAFN - Arab News) The Swiss will vote Sunday on whether to approve an emergency tightening of the country's asylum law in a bid to stem the influx of refugees to the wealthy Alpine nation.
A controversial revision, which was ordered as an emergency measure by the government and went into effect last October, marked the seventh change of the asylum law in Switzerland - Europe's fourth most popular destination for refugees.
The vote on June 9, one of four Sunday's this year set aside for popular votes on national, cantonal and communal issues as part of Switzerland's famous direct democratic system, comes after a range of opponents of the revision collected the 100,000 signatures required to call a referendum.
Also on Sunday, the Swiss will be called to vote on whether the people should elect the country's seven government members directly instead of having Parliament pick them, as it has been doing for the past 165 years.
According to recent polls though, that initiative appears set to fail.
Opponents of the new asylum law revisions, including human rights advocates, religious groups and unions who have banned together a collective called "Coordination against Exclusion and Xenophobia," also appear destined to fall short in their bid to overturn the changes.
Surveys show the Swiss are increasingly leaning towards giving their stamp of approval to the changes, as some balk at soaring numbers of refugees flocking to the small Alpine nation, which offers generous hand-outs throughout the asylum process.
A poll by public broadcaster RTS in late May showed that 57 percent of those questioned were in favour of the revisions, up nine percentage points from a month earlier.
There are currently some 48,000 people in the process of seeking asylum to Switzerland, including a full 28,631 who arrived in 2012 -- the highest number in a decade.
Only 11.7 percent of asylum applications were meanwhile granted last year, when most asylum seekers to the country came from Eritrea, Nigeria, Tunisia, Serbia and Afghanistan.
Counting one asylum seeker for every 332 inhabitants, Switzerland ranks as the fourth most popular host country in Europe, trailing only Malta, Sweden and Luxembourg, and ranking far above the European average of one asylum seeker for every 625 inhabitants.
Among the most controversial changes to the Swiss asylum law last year, was the decision to remove persecution due to military desertion as legal grounds for seeking asylum in Switzerland , a motive mainly used by Eritreans.
The revision also removed the possibility, which had been unique in Europe, to apply for asylum in Switzerland from Swiss embassies around the world.
That move revision has been harshly criticized by the Swiss Bishops Conference, which stressed recently it would force people "to pay intermediaries and to embark upon high-risk trips" to make their way to Switzerland.
The bishops also said the revisions would mean people in real need of assistance would be rejected.
"Behind every statistic there hides the destiny of men and women," it said in a recent statement, insisting that "no one leaves their country of their own free will without knowing what the future in another country or continent has in store."
Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, who is in charge of the brief, however insists the changes were for the best of the asylum seekers themselves.
She especially highlighted the speeding-up of the application process aimed to bring handling times down from several years to several months by removing the possibility of multiple appeals.
"Leaving people and their families for so long wallowing in uncertainty is unacceptable," she said recently, insisting that "processes that drag on and the asylum-seeker tag blocks rapid integration."
The rejigged asylum law also clears the way for the creation of special centres for asylum seekers considered to be trouble-makers and limits the right to family reunification to spouses and children.
As for the second issue to be voted on Sunday, it was proposed by Switzerland's largest party, the populist Swiss People's Party (SVP), which insists that allowing the electorate to choose its leaders directly would strengthen the government's legitimacy.
All the other political parties have however come out against the initiative, maintaining it would weaken Parliament, and a recent poll showed only 25-percent support for the shift among voters.
MENA News Headlines
|Dec 13 2013||ME airlines to post USD1.6b profits in 2013 ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Airlines from the Middle East are expected to make a net profit of USD1.6 billion this year,and USD2.4 billion next year, Arabian Business reported.
The International Air Transport ...|
|Dec 13 2013||Qatar's energy sector is main contributor to GDP ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) The Qatari energy sector in the past year witnessed many achievements, allowing the hydrocarbon industries' contribution to the country's gross domestic product (GDP) to remain in the range ...|
|Dec 13 2013||Qatar Shell inks deals with 3 local providers ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Qatar Shell inked a deal to add three more local companies to its supply chain for Qatar Shell and their partner Qatar Petroleum at the Pearl Gas to Liquids (GTL) plant, The Peninsula ...|
|Dec 13 2013||Dubai's Kaloti to build USD60m gold refinery ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Dubai's Kaloti Jewellery Group said that it hired a contractor to construct a precious metals refinery, Arabian Business reported.
United Engineering Construction (UNEC) has been hired to ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Exxon offers gasoil contract from Saudi Arabia ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Exxon Mobil Corp. made an offer for gasoil cargoes through a rare term tender from its joint-venture refinery in Saudi Arabia, Arab News reported.
Exxon Mobil offered up to 6 million ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Construction projects worth USD159b in KSA ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) The construction sector in Saudi Arabia is a key component of the country's economy development as projects worth a total of USD159 billion are underway or in the planning, Arab News ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Poland eyes investments from Qatar ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Qatar and Poland looked at opportunities to sustain cooperation in and improve trade ties between the two, The Peninsula reported.
Polish President met officials from Qatar Chamber and ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Qatar becomes pioneer in helium exports ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Qatar has become the the world"s largest helium exporter as with the inauguration of the Helium 2 plant, The Peninsula reported.
The plant incorporates the largest refining facility and ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Etihad to decide on Alitalia investment soon ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways is looking at the data room of Alitalia and is expected to decide on whether to invest in the Italian carrier by the end of the year, Arabian Business ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Habtoor Leighton to build USD395m residential towers ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Habtoor Leighton Group announced that it had won a contract with the Al Habtoor Group worth USD395 million for a residential towers project, Arabian Business reported.
Al Habtoor ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Emaar signs first deal for Expo 2020 project ,MENAFN|
|(MENAFN) Emaar Properties signed a memorandum of understanding with Dubai World Central for an urban centre and golf destination at the home of the Expo 2020 site, Arabian Business reported.
|Dec 12 2013||Dubai Economy Advances in 2013 ,Qatar News Agency|
|(MENAFN - Qatar News Agency) The year of 2013 will be remembered as a breakthrough year for Dubai as the emirate won the bid to host World Expo 2020, while witnessing strong backwinds in the field of ...|
|Dec 12 2013||UAE - Man shoots his wife over family dispute in Ras Al Khaimah ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The 55-year-old man opened fire after a heated argument with his wife at their house at about 10.30pm.
An Emirati man shot and wounded his 47-year-old wife following a ...|
|Dec 12 2013||UAE - Cruise control fails at 140kmph, woman driver rescued ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) She was unable to bring the vehicle to a stop and called the Fujairah Police Operations Room for help.
An Emirati woman was rescued by Fujairah cops after the car's ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Police deny report of assault at Dubai airport ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Dubai Police have denied the news in some sections of the media regarding an alleged assault of a Saudi national at the Dubai International Airport.
A top police ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Ozonegroup plans to open office in Dubai ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The increasing demand from the UAE and Gulf-based NRIs for the Ozone brand projects in India will be catered through the presence of Ozonegroup's local office.
|Dec 12 2013||UAE - Etisalat launches new mobile packages for high data users ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Users with either voice Data only SIMs can now take advantage of a completely unlimited mobile data package for Dh999, which is not capped at a maximum usage amount. Postpaid ...|
|Dec 12 2013||New season to bring 75 cruise ships to Abu Dhabi ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (ADTCA) sees these passengers as future tourists for the emirate. Mohammed Al Dhaheri, strategy and policy director at ADTCA, ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Islamic finance to drive next phase of growth in Mena region ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Rapidly-growing Islamic-based finance will drive the next phase of economic growth across the Middle East and North Africa (Mena), financial leaders have said at the ...|
|Dec 12 2013||Dubai to hostâ€¨ 11 international congresses ,Khaleej Times|
|(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Dubai World Trade Centre, or DWTC, is set to welcome 11 international congresses in 2014, spanning a number of strategic industry sectors, which is expected to deliver an ...|