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Switzerland: Rules on Accelerated Asylum Procedures Enter into Force

(Apr. 19, 2019) On March 1, 2019, new rules on accelerated asylum procedures entered into force in Switzerland. (Press Release, Bundesrat [Federal Council], Starting on March 1, 2019: New, Accelerated Asylum Procedures (Feb. 28, 2019), Federal Council website (in German); Asylum Act, June 26, 1998, SYSTEMATIC COLLECTION OF LAWS 142.31, art. 24, arts. 26b–26d, Federal Council website (in German).)

The new rules provide that the majority of asylum procedures must be completed within 140 days. During that time, asylum seekers are to stay in Federal Processing Centers that are run by the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) and located in six regions in Switzerland. (Asylum Act art. 24.) For that purpose, 5000 new places in processing centers are to be created by the end of 2019. (Press Release, supra.) In order to comply with the rule of law despite the new short deadlines, all asylum seekers whose application is examined under the accelerated procedure have a right to free counselling and free legal representation from the beginning onward. (Asylum Act arts. 102f, 102h.) If an accelerated procedure is not possible because further inquiries need to be made, the asylum seeker is to be assigned to one of the Swiss cantons for further processing (extended procedure). (Id. art. 26d.) The timeline for an extended asylum procedure is one year, which includes the appeals procedure. (Press Release, supra.)