On the occasion of the Universal Children's Day on 20 November, health professionals, teachers, students, parents, artists, writers, academics, elected officials of the left and the right as well as organisations working to promote children's and human rights joined forces to submit to the Federal Council an Appeal against the blind application of the Dublin regulation. The organisations intend, among other things, to remind Switzerland of its obligations to protect refugee children and their families and call on the federal authorities to process the asylum application of persons who arrived in Switzerland from another European country, when humanitarian and compassionate grounds so warrant.

In total, 33,000 people and over 200 organisations, including the three Swiss paediatric societies (SSP, SSPPEA and SSCP) and the umbrella organisation of Swiss teachers' associations (LCH) and the Union of Romand Teachers (Syndicat des Enseignants Romands - SER) have signed the Dublin Appeal launched internationally in late April.  

At a press conference, Raphaël Comte (PLR Advisor to the States), Mattea Meyer (PS National Advisor), Franziska Peterhans (Central Secretary of the LCH, the umbrella organisation of Swiss teachers' associations) and Dr. Hélène Beutler (Co-President of the Swiss Society of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy) relayed the concerns of this broad spectrum of support to the Dublin Appeal and advocated for a more humane application of the Dublin Regulation.

The national coalition also sent a letter to Federal Advisor Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga and to the executives of all cantons, asking for a meeting to discuss the Appeal's demands.  

At present, under the Dublin regulation, children are torn out of their classrooms mid-year or have to stop medical or psychological treatment. Some of them are even separated from one of their parents in violation of the best interest of the child and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.  

Yet, the Dublin Regulation itself provides for taking account the vulnerability of people when it is applied. "On humanitarian and compassionate grounds, in order to bring together family members", Switzerland can activate the discretionary clause provided by Article 17 subparagraph 1 of the Regulation and examine asylum applications.  

The Appeal against the blind application of the Dublin Regulation does not require a change in the law, nor a change in the asylum policy, but simply a change in the administrative practices used in the context of the application of the Dublin Regulation. It is an appeal to common sense: it is about better protecting vulnerable refugees, as provided for in the regulation.  

Switzerland has the highest number of Dublin transfers in Europe

Switzerland applies the Dublin Regulation scrupulously, since it has the highest number of transfers in Europe. In 2016, Switzerland transferred 3,750 individuals under the Dublin Regulation; it only received 469 individuals under the same regulation. Although Germany and Sweden have higher numbers of Dublin transfers (respectively 3,968 and 5,244 in 2016), they have also receive higher numbers of individuals under the Dublin Regulation (respectively 12,091 and 3,306). In 2016, over one third of all asylum applications filed in Switzerland received a decision of "non-entry under the Dublin Regulation" despite a sharp fall in the number of asylum applications (39,523 in 2015, 27,207 in 2016, 13,916 between 1.1 and 30.9.2017).