In particular, the UNHCR is frothing at the mouth at the suggestion that - HORRORS! - those wishing to claim asylum need to be able to show passports. From the Independent this morning:
However, the new laws, which will also oblige asylum-seekers to provide proof ofWell, yes but...
identity within 48 hours of their arrival in Switzerland, have been sharply
criticised by the United Nations refugee agency, which says that it is common
for genuine refugees not to have any means of identification.
In fact no. This is deliberately disingenuous. Looking at the detail, the more peculiar it is that UNHCR should have an issue. Here is the text of the 1967 Protocol on the Status of Refugees (it's a large pdf, I'm afraid).
The relevant section is Article 31 (1):
The Contracting States shall not impose penalties, on account of their illegal entry or presence, on refugees who, coming directly from a territory where their life or freedom was threatened in the sense of article 1, enter or are present in their territory without authorization, provided they present themselves without delay to the authorities and show good cause for their illegal entry or presence.Perhaps it would be helpful to have a look at a map of the area.
The more astute of you will have noticed that Switzerland is rather notably landlocked. Arrival at Switzerland's borders therefore cannot be done from the sea. To get into Switzerland, our asylum claimant must either travel by land through one of Italy, Austria, Germany or France or they have to fly in. So....
If our claimant travels by land, he cannot claim asylum in Switzerland because he should have done so in one of the four European Union countries through which he must have travelled - he has not "come directly from a territory where [his] life of freedom was threatened".
If he travels by air to fly direct into Switzerland, he would have to have had a passport in order for the airline to allow him to board in the country of departure.
So, either he cannot claim asylum in Switzerland or he should have a passport. I am struggling to see exactly why - in SWITZERLAND's CASE - this should be contentious.