The Swiss government has decided to allow an independent body to continue monitoring forced repatriations of rejected asylum seekers after the conclusion of a pilot project.
The National Commission for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT) will take over the surveillance of deportation flights in June from the Federation of Protestant Churches.
A dozen special observers will be trained in the meantime and its reports will be made public. To carry out this new task, the commission’s budget will be doubled to SFr700,000 ($768,000).
The commission had initially refused the mandate before accepting after it was guaranteed special access to information concerning deportees, in particular medical data.
However, it will have no say on the validity of the deportation process. The special flights are last possible measures that can be implemented by the Swiss authorities against rejected asylum seekers.
Last year, one third of 9,400 people flown home did so on a voluntary basis, while 165 were forcibly repatriated. On the ten flights that were monitored last year, the protestant church federation’s observers said the process was carried out professionally and within the legal guidelines.
As a party to the pan-European Dublin agreement on asylum seekers, Switzerland must have a monitoring system for deportation flights.