CSDM submits urgent communication to the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council concerning Switzerland’s Dublin practice, 1 October 2018

The CSDM has submitted an urgent communication to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture and the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants concerning Switzerland’s systematic practice of expelling vulnerable asylum seekers in proceedings under the Dublin III Regulation to countries with dysfunctional asylum systems that expose the persons concerned to a real risk of inhuman and degrading treatment.

The Committee against Torture recently held that the expulsion of an Eritrean torture survivor to Italy, where he risked being deprived of the medical care necessary to treat his physical and psychological trauma, and where he would face street destitution, amounted to breaches of Articles 3, 14 and 16 of the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (see A.N. v. Switzerland, Communication no. 742/2016; also Swiss parliamentarians interpellation concerning implementation of this decision).

Thousands of asylum seekers are expelled from Switzerland every year pursuant to the Dublin III Regulation (5’843 inadmissibility decisions in 2017) including particularly vulnerable persons such as torture survivors, victims of human trafficking, persons with serious medical conditions and families with minor children. Yet, the Swiss authorities have failed to put in place a dedicated mechanism to identify vulnerable individuals in expedited proceedings under the Dublin Regulation and to safeguard their fundamental rights. The consequence of this omission is that Dublin expulsions place in a “legal vacuum” where the Regulation is applied on a blanket basis to every asylum seeker whose presence was first recorded in a different Member State of the Dublin Regulation, without an individualised examination of the personal circumstances of the asylum seeker and the conditions in the proposed country of destination. Thus, civil society actors continue to document significant numbers of expulsions of vulnerable persons to countries in Europe that are unable to cater to their basic needs of food shelter and medical care. In some instances there is also no effective access to an asylum procedure for purposes of requesting international protection and the persons concerned may risk detention under inhuman and degrading conditions.

In our urgent communication of 1 October 2018, we have asked the Special Rapporteurs to intervene directly with the Swiss authorities urging them to clarify what concrete action will be taken to 1) identify vulnerable asylum seekers in Dublin expulsion proceedings; 2) ensure that they benefit from an individualised examination of the risk of inhuman or degrading treatment in the country of destination, and 3) establish and publish new guidelines for the identification of vulnerable asylum seekers and guidelines for the establishment of mechanisms for safeguarding the substantive and procedural rights of asylum seekers in Dublin proceedings.

For full submission, click here.