Differential treatment of specific nationalities in detention


Country Report: Differential treatment of specific nationalities in detention Last updated: 14/05/21


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There is no information on specific nationalities being more susceptible to detention or systematically detained, or otherwise treated differently than others. Analyses carried out on data from 2011 to 2017 show that the nationalities most represented among asylum seekers detained were Nigeria, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Gambia, and Eritrea.[1] The detention of Algerian and Eritrean nationals with the purpose of removal to their country of origin – many are actually detained in view of a transfer to a Dublin State – deserves a comment. In both cases, removal is technically possible only with the consent and compliance of the person involved, in the form of ‘voluntary return’ or autonomous return (without police escort). The Swiss Refugee Council is aware of the practice in some cantons of detaining persons of these nationalities in the attempt to force them to collaborate with their own deportation. Although coercive detention (Article 78 FNIA) allows detaining people when deportation cannot be enforced due to their own behaviour, this practice is very problematic since administrative detention can be proportional and lawful only when the removal is possible and foreseeable.


[1] Achermann et al, “Administrative Detention of Foreign Nationals in Figures”. in a nutshell #12, January 2019, https://bit.ly/39YFBUB.

Table of contents

  • Statistics
  • Overview of the legal framework
  • Overview of the main changes since the previous report update
  • Asylum Procedure
  • Reception Conditions
  • Detention of Asylum Seekers
  • Content of International Protection