FECL 30 (December 1994/January 1995):

MASS DEPORTATION OF TAMILS TO SRI LANKA

 

Early this year, the Swiss government signed an agreement with Sri Lanka on the return of Tamil rejected asylum seekers to this country. 12,000 Tamils are to be deported in a large-scale operation launched by the Swiss asylum and police authorities.

Around 25,000 Tamils are staying in Switzerland. The agreement states that refugees from Sri Lanka who have sought protection in Switzerland after 30 June 1990 are, in general, to be returned. 12,000 Tamils are affected by the regulation. Since the signature of the agreement, the Federal Office of Refugees, BFF, has rapidly increased negative decisions by accelerated procedure and the recognition quota for Tamils has dropped to nearly zero per cent. The final rejection of a claim is accompanied by a summons to sign a declaration of "voluntary return" with the Foreigner Police. But in spite of psychological and physical threats and harassment, most Tamils refuse to sign. By doing so, they become illegal immigrants and can be detained awaiting deportation.

Switzerland is the first and, for the time being, only country to have signed an agreement on return with Sri Lanka, despite insistent warnings from many quarters that Tamils are continually threatened with persecution there. Moreover, Switzerland has the highest rejection quota for Tamil asylum seekers of all western European countries.

 

Source: Press documentation Mediengruppe refugium, Zurich, December 94