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Local News Summary of March, 18th

  • Baselland police bans controversial Turkish event in Reinach
  • Sans-Papiers: Open-minded Basel still pulling the brake

Baselland police bans controversial Turkish event in Reinach

An event organised by the nationalistic Turkish group, the “Grey Wolves”, was on Friday banned by Baselland police on security grounds.
News of the gathering in Reinach, which had been billed as “cultural”, had prompted left-wing extremists to call for an anti-fascist counter-protest through social media.

According to a release by the police, the decision was taken along with the security department of Baselland, to cancel the “Grey Wolves” event in the light of „new developments“. The police took action on the grounds that that the security and safety of the population would be comprised if the Turkish event - as well as any other banned counter-events – had been allowed to go ahead.

Sans-Papiers: Open-minded Basel still pulling the brake

Those living in Basel without a secure residency status, known as „Sans-Papier”, are largely unnoticed in our society. As the Papyrus project in Geneva has shown, there is still a lot of work to do. Now in Basel, the politicians are waking up to the realization that the problem also exists here: Members of Parliament have told the government that they should face up to the situation.

The term „Sans-Papiers” does not necessarily mean that someone has no papers at all. It is possible to have a job, a flat, and a social security number and still be illegal. For the government, this means that a part of the population is living in Basel without proper control. For many affected people this means they are living on the edge of society. They live in constant fear of being caught, which would automatically mean the start of criminal proceedings against them.

Their only hope: The hardship case paragraph of the Asylum Bill. However, the number of people who apply for hardship status is very small. These “Sans-Papiers” people can automatically become easy victims of abuse, black market labour, and low wages. But where can they go to complain?

Geneva successfully pressing ahead with project

The problem of not having residency papers cannot be solved through the usual routes alone.  A strict asylum policy can also worsen the problem, according to the Federal report to the bill concerning the expulsion-initiative<https://www.admin.ch/opc/de/federal-gazette/2013/5975.pdf>.
Through a pilot project lasting two years, the city of Geneva tried to lower the hurdles for people without papers. The containment of black market labour was targeted in the operation. The conditions for obtaining a residence status were found to be higher through the project than by meeting the legal requirements of the asylum bill. However, the action was fully successful, a report released in February said.
Transparency and clarity for those concerned were the declared main goals of this action. The head of the Geneva security department, Pierre Maudet, has therefore called on Basel and other Swiss cities to take action.

Heads in the sand so far

Fabrice Mangold, media spokesperson for the advisory office for Sans-Papiers in Basel, confirmed the need for action and hoped that the Geneva project was exemplary however, the office criticised the project as “very restrictive”.

There are differences between the cities: „In Basel the preconditions are very different,” he said. “The society there is not ready to see and acknowledge reality. Unfortunately a strong denial can be felt”. As a comparison: Only four cases reached the stage of being reassessed by the Federal government, and three of them were approved. The cantonal office rarely gets involved: this duty is mostly left to the advisory office.
Although there has been some progress, there is „still not enough transparency compared to how things are in Geneva”, Mr Mangold said. The situation will not improve by itself, but would instead worsen, he said.

This is even more embarrassing since there are numerous people among this group who have been living and working in Switzerland for decades and have an impeccable reputation. A simple parking fine for these people could mean the end.

Basel is lagging behind

Real action could follow: Tonja Zürcher, member of the Grand Council for the party BastA!, has submitted an interpellation about this topic. She is calling for the Office for Migration and the Department for Security to take real action after the promises announced earlier. She wants to explore the situation through ten questions, including: “How does the examination of a hardship case work?”. “There seem to be bigger gaps concerning transparency,” she said.

The interpellation, put together by Ms Zürcher among others, is based on the „papyrus“ project in Geneva and the demands of the Nicht ohne unsere Freundinnen! (Not without our friends!)  campaign.

„In an open minded and social city like Basel these measurements should already have been implemented,“ she said.
The lack of transparency can be seen in the fact that the office for migration has rejected almost all requests however the commission for hardship cases had recommended that they be re-examined. Both institutions judge on the basis of the same facts.

Regardless of its asylum policy, the morals of a modern society must be based around the fact that no one should be invisible and that there is at least a chance for legal clarity on their status. Geneva dared to make the first step. Basel – the self-declared open-minded city on the Rhine – is lagging massively behind.