Switzerland: Federal Tribunal condemns detention of a family pending Dublin transfer to Norway

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Swiss Federal Tribunal has delivered a ruling condemning the administrative detention of a family pending their Dublin transfer to Norway. The parents had been separated from their young children during the detention period, with extremely limited contact.
The case concerned an Afghan couple and their children aged three, six and eight years old, who applied for asylum in Switzerland in May 2016. The Afghan woman was pregnant at the time. The family were due to be transferred back to Norway under the Dublin procedure on grounds that it was the first country of entry.  After unsuccessful attempts to transfer the family due to a lack of identity documents, the canton of Zoug ordered the administrative detention of the parents under the Dublin Regulation. The mother and her newly born child were placed in the detention centre of Zurich, the father in the sector for administrative detention of the Zoug prison, and the three other infants in a child care facility. Telephonic contact between the family members was prohibited and later extremely limited.
The Federal Tribunal judged the Dublin detention illegal as it violated Article 8 ECHR (right to private and family life) and could not be justified by the existence of a public interest. The best interest of the children had to be considered as carrying the preponderant weight in the assessment of the case. The separation of children from their parents who have been detained is only admissible as a last resort and after a thorough consideration of less coercive measures. Therefore, the Federal Tribunal considered the detention, which split the family apart, as a disproportionate interference with Article 8 ECHR.
Based on an unofficial translation by the ELENA Weekly Legal Update. The EWLU would like to thank Constantin Hruschka from the Swiss Refugee Council for sending the decision in full.

This item was reproduced with the permission of ECRE from the weekly ELENA legal update supported by the Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Funding Programme and distributed by email. The purpose of these updates is to inform asylum lawyers and legal organizations supporting asylum seekers and refugees of recent developments in the field of asylum law. Please note that the information provided is taken from publicly available information on the internet. Every reasonable effort is made to make the content accurate and up to date at the time each item is published but no responsibility for its accuracy and correctness, or for any consequences of relying on it, is assumed by ECRE, the IRC or its partners.



Best interest of the child
Child Specific Considerations
Dublin Transfer
Family unity (right to)