HRW: The Swiss government is arbitrarily interfering with asylum seekers’ free movement rights by giving local authorities the authority to prohibit them from using public school and sports facilities, Human Rights Watch said. On August 7, 2013, the head of Switzerland’s Migration Ministry, Mario Gattiker, told Swiss media that an agreement between his ministry and the municipality of Bremgarten allows local officials to issue “rules of the game” limiting or prohibiting asylum seekers’ use of such spaces.
Gattiker was quoted as saying that the rules are intended to secure an “ordered” and “conflict-free” relationship between asylum seekers and locals and will help avoid “friction and resentment” if “50 asylum seekers” simultaneously use a football pitch or a swimming pool. European and other international law requires Switzerland to justify any free movement restrictions as a necessary, proportionate, and non-discriminatory measure to secure national security, public order, or public health.
“For Switzerland, the home of the United Nations and its refugee agency, to introduce a blatantly discriminatory policy that effectively segregates asylum seekers from the communities in which they live is shocking,” said Gerry Simpson, senior refugee researcher for Human Rights Watch. “The Swiss authorities should encourage all Swiss communities to treat some of the world’s most vulnerable people with respect and dignity, rather than reinforcing prejudice and division.”