Ban on entry to United States - position statement by Didier Burkhalter

Press release, 29.01.2017

Changes to immigration policy in the United States raise very practical questions and have also sparked a far-reaching debate on values.

"From a practical point of view, I think it is up to the United States authorities to set the conditions for immigration into their country. At the same time, it is clear that these conditions have immediate consequences for many people around the world – including people in Switzerland – in particular those with a dual nationality who are affected by these new measures.

We are therefore paying close attention to the progress of this issue. We are in contact with the US authorities in order to obtain as clear information as possible on the procedures envisaged and we reserve the right to take appropriate measures to protect the rights of Swiss citizens concerned.

As far as values are concerned, I wish to restate the consistent positions of our country: Switzerland is committed to the prevention of terrorism and is taking concrete action in this area. Any measures taken in that regard must, however, respect fundamental rights as well as international law. We have always opposed discrimination against human beings based on their religion or their origin. In this respect, the executive order issued by the US government is clearly a step in the wrong direction.

As far as refugees are concerned, all countries must take in victims of war, for humanitarian reasons, under the Geneva Conventions. It is contrary to the Conventions to impose a general ban on entry for people coming from Syria.

I am convinced that it is essential – also in the aim of preventing violent extremism – to do everything possible to avoid further frustrations. We must work to bring the international community together to tackle the root causes of the difficulties facing our world.”

Didier Burkhalter

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