Swiss introduce apartheid-like restrictions: Local authorities ban asylum seekers from public places

Refugees prohibited from 'loitering' in playgrounds or visiting swimming pools and libraries

Berlin

Switzerland’s local authorities have introduced draconian restrictions which ban asylum-seekers from frequenting public places such as school playgrounds, swimming pools and libraries in a move angrily denounced by human rights groups as intolerable and racist.

In the town of Bremgarten west of Zurich, where a new centre for asylum-seekers opened last month, officials said refugees would not be allowed to “loiter” in school playgrounds and would be banned from visiting public swimming pools, playing fields and a church. A total of 32 “exclusion zones” have been drawn up.

Raymond Tellenbach, the town’s mayor, told the German broadcaster ARD: “We have decided on security grounds not to allow access to these areas, to prevent conflict and guard against possible drug use.”

Mario Gattiker, the head of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Immigration which endorsed the apartheid-style restrictions, justified the move to journalists saying: “We need rules to ensure a peaceful and orderly coexistence of residents and asylum-seekers.”

However a spokesman for Switzerland’s non-governmental Refugee Council described the restraining orders as “intolerable and inhuman” and demanded that the authorities suspend the measures. “It is up to the authorities to create an atmosphere of openness,” the spokesman added. The human rights group Solidarité Sans Frontières said the restrictions were “blatantly discriminatory.” However Roman Staub, the mayor of the nearby town of Menzingen said he fully supported banning asylum-seekers from the vicinity of schools: “This is certainly a very difficult area, because here asylum-seekers could meet our schoolchildren – young girls our young boys,” he remarked.

Switzerland plays host to almost double the number of asylum-seekers per head of population of its European neighbours. It counts one refugee for every 332 inhabitants, compared to one per 625 inhabitants on the rest of the continent. Some 48,000 refugees are currently seeking asylum in Switzerland. In June this year voters took part in a referendum which overwhelmingly backed moves to tighten asylum restrictions amid fears voiced by the popular right-wing Swiss People’s Party that the country was being inundated with refugees.

The new rules stipulate that military desertion is no longer a reason for claiming asylum. Would-be refugees can also no longer apply for asylum through Swiss foreign embassies.

The growing refugee population has obliged Swiss local authorities to seek new ways of accommodating asylum-seekers. Several Swiss army mountain bunkers have been decommissioned and turned into refugee centres.

Critics point out that most of the bunkers are miles away from human habitation and that under current rules resident refugees are subjected to a curfew which forbids them from leaving the premises after 5pm. 

Some Swiss politicians have nevertheless complained that the presence of asylum-seekers in remote Alpine regions could have a negative impact on the tourist industry.

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
football
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

.NET Developer / Web Developer / Software Developer - £37,000

£30000 - £37000 per annum + attractive benefits: Ashdown Group: .NET Developer...

Biology Teacher

Main Pay Scale : Randstad Education Leeds: Biology Teacher to A Level - Female...

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering