The Swiss National Council (One of the Houses of Swiss Parliament) passed a motion for extraordinary humanitarian action for asylum seekers, especially for persons receiving emergency aid from old-law asylum procedures, yesterday on 16 March 2023. The motion was passed in favour with 100 to 81 votes and 5 abstentions.
The extraordinary humanitarian motion is aimed to find a humanitarian solution for rejected asylum seekers under the old asylum procedure of Switzerland. Switzerland enforced new asylum procedure from 1 March 2019 and the motion seeks relief for all the rejected asylum applicants who submitted their application before 28 February 2019.
Former National Councillor Marianne Steiff-Feller, who was also a member of the Swiss Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet initiated the motion on 16 March 2021. After her resignation, the motion was taken over and presented to the National Council by Councillor Niklaus Samuel Gugger on 16 March 2023. National Councillor Niklaus Gugger, also the current co-president of the Swiss Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet, while presenting the motion noted that over 3,000 people are stuck in Switzerland under the old asylum law and as these people are very well integrated in Switzerland, there is a need to provide them humanitarian solution. He specifically noted that this is a solution aimed at specific people including Tibetan victims.
Couple of years back, on 10 March 2021, a joint petition with over 3,000 signatures was submitted to Swiss government calling for a humanitarian solution to around 300 rejected Tibetan asylum seekers in Switzerland. The Swiss-Tibetan Friendship Association; the Tibetan Community of Switzerland and Lichtenstein; the Tibetan Women’s Association of Switzerland; and the Tibetan Youth Association in Europe had jointly organised the mass signature campaign.
While submitting the petition, the then Special Appointee for Human Rights based in Tibet Bureau Geneva Thinlay Chukki had noted that, “this petition is of paramount importance because these Tibetans especially the youth are the future of Tibet’s struggle and it is concerning to see them languish without any foreseeable solution,” and had urged the Swiss government and the parliamentarians to find a humanitarian solution for these Tibetans.
The petition was also discussed during the last meeting of the Swiss Parliamentary Support Group for Tibet on 7 March 2023. Representative Thinlay Chukki, along with Member of Tibetan Parliament-in-exile from Europe Thupten Gyatso, President of the Tibetan Community of Switzerland and Liechtenstein Karma Choekyi, President of the Swiss Tibetan Friendship Association Thomas Buchli had urged the Parliamentarian members to support the motion.
Welcoming the passage of the motion, Representative Thinlay Chukki thanked the parliamentarians for their support to the motion and noted that, “It has taken over two years for the petition to be passed as a motion which will not only benefit Tibetans but also all other rejected asylum seekers. We sincerely hope that the motion will be passed from the Council of States and thereby implemented by the Swiss government granting humanitarian solution for the rejected asylum seekers stuck under the old asylum procedure.”
The motion for extraordinary humanitarian solution will likely be tabled before the other house of Swiss parliament, the Council of States, during the next session.