Swiss treatment of asylum seekers sparks off an outcry
GENEVA (AFP) - Switzerland, which prides itself on its humanitarian principles, is facing a barrage of criticism over its treatment of asylum seekers, including charges of segregation and inhumane living conditions.
The controversy first broke last week when federal migration authorities said the small northern town of Bremgarten, with 6,500 residents, had been permitted to deny residents of a new asylum centre access to certain public spaces.
Initial reports that the asylum seekers would be barred from the public pool, gyms and even the town library and churches sparked outrage and charges of segregation and discrimination from rights activists.
Swiss migration authorities maintain the reports were based on a misunderstanding, insisting the asylum seekers will only have restricted access to so-called "sensitive areas" where access is also restricted to the Swiss public, like schools and sports facilities during school hours.