Switzerland has voted in favour of making it harder for asylum seekers to gain entry into the country. About two thirds of the electorate has said ‘Yes’ to the changes which will make the Alpine state’s asylum rules some of the toughest in the western world.
The measures had already been passed by the government and parliament but opponents forced the national ballot to take place. The referendum also questioned voters on a proposal to limit non-European job seekers access to Switzerland. That was also approved. Advocates of the new asylum measures say they will help stop what they describe as fake refugees abusing the system.
In the run up to the vote, humanitarian groups warned that the changes could deny protection to those who really need it. Part of the new code stipulates that anyone seeking refugee status must be able to present a passport within 48 hours. It has been argued the changes will damage Switzerland’s humanitarian reputation.