Switzerland’s immigration process is unfair and, in some cases, racist – that is the view of the country’s racial discrimination watchdog. In a hard-hitting report it criticises the practice of allowing members of a community to vote on an individual’s citizenship application.
Muslims and people from the Balkans and Africa are the most likely to be rejected, it says. A senior official from the agency said: “We’ve had cases where all Muslim candidates have been refused and when they’ve applied two years later have been turned down again. And the reason when given – because it’s not always given, as some people are afraid to admit their xenophobia – when they do give they say it’s because they’re not integrated Muslims.”
Switzerland has Europe’s toughest naturalisation laws. Foreigners must live for 12 years in a Swiss community, and being born in the country does not give an automatic right to citizenship.