No detention centre mapping data


Switzerland Immigration Detention

Many of Switzerland's immigration detention practices contrast sharply with those of its neighbours. For instance, when compared to detention centres elsewhere in Europe, some Swiss detention sites—like its Frambois facility in Geneva—have been lauded for having a comparatively humane regime. On the other hand, the country continues to make widespread use of prisons for immigration detention purposes, making it one of last countries in Europe to do so.

Quick Facts


Immigration detainees (2018): 3,284
Detained asylum seekers (2018): 2,155
Detained minors (2019): 7
Immigration detention capacity (2020): Not Available
International migrants (2019): 2,572,000
New asylum applications (2019): 14,269

Profile Updated: June 2020

 

 

 

Switzerland has one of the highest percentages of non-citizen (or “foreign national”) residents in the world, which by 2018 numbered more than two million people, or nearly 25 percent of the entire population.[1] Reasons for this high percentage are the country’s high immigration rates as well as challenges in acquiring citizenship, which is not automatically granted to people born in Switzerland. The Swiss Federal Statistical Office reported in 2016 that nearly 400,000 foreign nationals were born in Switzerland, which made up about 20 percent of the country’s non-citizen population.[2] What is more, nearly half of Switzerland’s non-citizen residents have lived at least 10 years in the country.[3]

Immigration and asylum policies are the subject of heated political debates in the country and have also received international scrutiny. For instance, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), whose headquarters are located in Geneva, described the country’s 2005 asylum law as “one of the strictest pieces of legislation in Europe.”[4] More recently, in 2018, Switzerland opted not to join 160 other countries in adopting the non-binding Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration, even though the country had played an important role crafting the compact.[5] 

Switzerland’s detention policies have been impacted by these national debates. However, an equally important influence is the fact that “coercive measures,” as detention procedures are called in Swiss law, are applied at the local (or cantonal) level rather than at the federal level, a system similar to Germany’s. This can create varying degrees of enforcement between different parts of Switzerland. It also may be an important reason that Switzerland, unlike nearly all other countries in Europe, continues to make widespread use of prisons for immigration detention purposes. Of the more than 30 dozen detention sites used for applying coercive measures in Switzerland, the Global Detention Project has identified only five that are specialised immigration facilities.

In 2018, there were reportedly 3,284 total detention orders, the majority of which concerned “detention pending deportation” (Article 76 FNA), with 1,895 orders (57.7 percent), followed by Dublin detention (Article 76a FNA) with 1,213 orders (i.e. 36.9 percent).[6] The numbers of people placed in detention have steadily decreased during the past decade, down from a high of 7,540 in 2011.[7] In 2018, the top nationalities of detainees were, by order of importance, Algeria, Nigeria, Albania, Morocco, and Kosovo.[8] 

For more information, see Global Immigration Detention Observatory, “Switzerland Immigration Detention Data Profile.”

 


[1] Federal Statistical Office, “Foreign population” (website), https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/en/home/statistics/population/migration-integration/foreign.html

[2] O. Lavoustet, “La Suisse Dépasse les 8,5 Millions d’Habitants,” Le Temps, 9 April 2019, https://www.letemps.ch/suisse/suisse-depasse-85-millions-dhabitants; D. Q. Nguyen, “Qui Sont ces 25% d’Etrangers en Suisse?” Swissinfo, 10 November 2017, https://www.swissinfo.ch/fre/societe/s%C3%A9rie-migration-partie-1-_deux-millions-d-%C3%A9trangers-en-suisse-mais-qui-sont-ils/42409190

[3] Swissinfo, "Defining the 25% foreign population in Switzerland,” 19 November 2017, https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/society/migration-series-part-1-_who-are-the-25-foreign-population-in-switzerland/42412156

[4] UNHCR, “Switzerland: UNHCR Deeply Regrets Adoption of New Asylum Law,” 18 March 2005, https://www.unhcr.org/news/briefing/2005/3/423ab71a25/switzerland-unhcr-deeply-regrets-adoption-new-asylum-law.html

[5] Swissinfo, "Why do we need the Global Compact for Migration?” 11 December 2019, https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/politics/explainer_why-do-we-need-the-global-compact-for-migration-/44572400

[6] State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), “Datenerhebung Zwangsmassnahmen (DAZ) ganze Schweiz 2018,” 18 January 2019, provided to the GDP by Philippe Feliser (SEM), Email exchange with Agnese Zucca (GDP), 7 June 2019.

[7] Federal Office for Migration (P. Feliser), Responses to Global Detention Project/Access Info Questionnaire, 9 and 24 October 2013.

[8] State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), “Datenerhebung Zwangsmassnahmen (DAZ) ganze Schweiz 2018,” 18 January 2019, provided to the GDP by Philippe Feliser (SEM), Email exchange with Agnese Zucca (GDP), 7 June 2019.

Centres List

No detention centres data available

Statistics Expand all



3,284

Total number of immigration detainees by year

2018

  • Total number of immigration detainees by year
NumberObservation Date
3,2842018
3,7242017
5,7322016
5,4172014
6,0392013
6,8062012
7,5402011


Algeria

Top nationalities of detainees

2018

  • Top nationalities of detainees
Countries ordered by rankObservation Date
Algeria, Nigeria, Albania, Morocco, Kosovo2018
Albania, Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Kosovo2017


2,155

Number of detained asylum seekers

2018

  • Number of detained asylum seekers
NumberObservation Date
2,1552018


7

Total number of detained minors

2019

  • Total number of detained minors
NumberObservation Date
72019
82018
212017
252016
372015
1312014
1302013
1772012
1762011


2

Number of detained unaccompanied minors

2019

  • Number of detained unaccompanied minors
NumberObservation Date
22019
22018
42017


5

Number of detained accompanied minors

2019

  • Number of detained accompanied minors
NumberObservation Date
52019
62018
172017


14,420

Number of apprehensions of non-citizens

2018

  • Number of apprehensions of non-citizens
NumberObservation Date
14,4202018
13,8002014
15,0452013
14,1702012


0.16

Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population

2018

  • Immigration detainees as a percentage of total international migrant population
PercentageObservation Date
0.162018
0.32013


Not Available

Estimated total immigration detention capacity

2020

  • Estimated total immigration detention capacity
NumberObservation Date
Not Available2020
3522018


5

Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2020

  • Number of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
52020
52011


166

Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres

2020

  • Estimated capacity of dedicated long-term immigration detention centres
NumberObservation Date
1662020
912011


2

Number of transit facilities

2020

  • Number of transit facilities
NumberObservation Date
22020
22011


33

Number of criminal facilities

2020

  • Number of criminal facilities
NumberObservation Date
332020
202011


2,486

Number of deportations/forced returns only

2018

  • Number of deportations/forced returns only
NumberObservation Date
2,4862018
3,0212017


6,909

Criminal prison population

2020

  • Criminal prison population
NumberObservation Date
6,9092020
6,8842015
7,0722013
6,5992012


69.6

Percentage of foreign prisoners

2020

  • Percentage of foreign prisoners
PercentageObservation Date
69.62020
712015
74.32013
73.82012


80

Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)

2020

  • Prison population rate (per 100,000 of national population)
NumberObservation Date
802020
832015
872013
822012



8,603,899

Population

2020

  • Population
NumberObservation Date
8,603,8992020
8,299,0002015
7,700,0002012


2,572,000

International migrants

2019

  • International migrants
NumberObservation Date
2,572,0002019
2,438,7002015
2,335,1002013


29.9

International migrants as a percentage of the population

2019

  • International migrants as a percentage of the population
PercentageObservation Date
29.92019
29.42015
28.92013


116,700

Refugees

2019

  • Refugees
NumberObservation Date
116,7002019
104,0372018
93,0562017
82,6082016
73,3362015
69,3902015
52,4642014
50,7472012


9.87

Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants

2016

  • Ratio of refugees per 1000 inhabitants
NumberObservation Date
9.872016
7.632014
6.482012
6.62011


14,269

Total number of new asylum applications

2019

  • Total number of new asylum applications
NumberObservation Date
14,2692019
9,0422016
22,1132014
32,3592012


49

Stateless persons

2018

  • Stateless persons
NumberObservation Date
492018
622017
662016
762015
792014
692012

Domestic Law Expand all

Legal tradition Show sources
NameObservation Date
Civil law

Constitutional guarantees? Show sources
Yes/NoConstitution and ArticlesYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
YesFederal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation - (Constitution fédérale de la Confédération Suisse du 18 Avril 1999), Articles 10 and 3119991999
Core pieces of national legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration - (Loi Fédérale sur les Etrangers et l'Intégration du 16 Décembre 2005)20052014
Asylum Act - (Loi sur l'Asile du 26 Juin 1998)19982014
Additional legislation Show sources
NameYear AdoptedLast Year Amended
Ordonnance sur l’Exécution du Renvoi et de l’Expulsion d’Etrangers19992020

Immigration-status-related grounds Show sources
NameObservation Date
Detention to prevent unauthorised entry at the border2020
Detention for failing to respect a voluntary removal order2020
Detention to effect removal2020
Detention during the asylum process2020
Detention pending transfer to another Schengen country2020
Detention for unauthorized stay resulting from criminal conviction2020
Detention to prevent absconding2020
Detention to ensure transfer under the Dublin Regulation2020

Does the country provide specific criminal penalties for immigration-related violations? Show sources
FinesIncarcerationObservation Date
YesYes2020
Grounds for criminal immigration-related detention/incarceration and maximum potential duration of incarceration Show sources
Grounds for IncarcerationMaximum Number of Days of IncarcerationObservation Date
Unauthorized entry3652020
Unauthorised stay3652020
Unauthorized exit3652020
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations? Show sources
Has the country decriminalized immigration-related violations?Observation Date
No2020

Maximum length for administrative immigration detention in law. Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
5402020
Average length of detention Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
282018
252017
252016
212014
222013
202012
232011
Maximum length of detention for persons detained upon arrival at ports of entry Show sources
Number of DaysObservation Date
152020

Provision of basic procedural standards Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Independent review of detentionYes2020
Right to appeal the lawfulness of detentionYes2020
Access to consular assistanceYes2020
Right to legal counselYes2020
Access to free interpretation servicesNo2020

Types of non-custodial measures Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Release on bailNoinfrequently2020
Supervised release and/or reportingNoinfrequently2020
Registration (deposit of documents)Noinfrequently2020
Designated non-secure housingNoinfrequently2020
Electronic monitoringNoNo2020

Is the detention of vulnerable persons provided in law? Are they detained in practice? Show sources
NameIn LawIn PracticeObservation Date
Accompanied minorsProvidedYes2020
Unaccompanied minorsProvidedYes2020
Asylum seekersProvided2020

Re-entry ban Show sources
NameObservation Date
Yes2020

Latest Update Show sources
Update StatusObservation Date
Responding to the Global Detention Project Covid-19 survey, AsyLex reported that although Switzerland has not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders, many immigration detainees have been released because returns are no longer possible. Certain local governments (cantonal authorities) have released all detainees, confirming information provided to the GDP by the Director General of the Geneva Cantonal Population and Migration Office (Office Cantonal de la Population et des Migrations) (see 9 June Switzerland update on this platform), whereas other local authorities have not released anyone. However, all detainees in Dublin procedures were released towards the end of March. Asylex indicated that for released detainees, no “alternatives to detention” programs were used; instead, according to AsyLex, people were returned to crowded “camps,” referring to “asylum accommodation” (Asylunterkünften) or “asylum centres” (Asylzentren), which they said may lack adequate protections for preventing the spread of Covid-19. AsyLex explained that these places are often underground, with up to 15 people sleeping in one room. Blick TV investigated these facilities and published a video filmed by a detainee showing an overcrowded dormitory where social distancing is impossible to implement (see link below). Asylex also said that immigration detainees have only been tested for Covid-19 if infection is suspected. In addition, according to the organisation, deportations were not halted as removals to Serbia and Albania took place and potentially to other countries. On 9 June, the Swiss Supreme Court handed down a judgment in a case brought by AsyLex concerning the detention of a Somali national prior to deportation. The Court found that due to limitations on the ability to deport people, “detention pending removal” was unlawful during this period. AsyLex explained that the law stipulates that to detain people under this provision deportation must be foreseeable, as per Article 76 of the Federal Act on Foreign Nationals and Integration (AIG). In a statement on their website published on 11 June, AsyLex also mentioned that they presented challenges in more than 40 cases throughout Switzerland during the Covid-19 pandemic, invoking various provisions (Articles 78(6)(a); 80(a)(6); and 80(a)(7)) of the AIG as well as Article 5 of the European Convention on Human Rights. More than 30 of their clients were released from detention, while other cases are still pending.2020
Responding to the Global Detention Project’s Covid-19 survey, the Geneva Cantonal Population and Migration Office (Office Cantonal de la Population et des Migrations or OCPM) reported that while Geneva had not established a moratorium on new immigration detention orders, no new orders have been issued since the end of April, owing to the impossibility of deporting people. The OCPM also confirmed that all immigration detainees in the canton had been released towards the end of April by orders of the OCPM and the Geneva first instance administrative tribunal. The Migration Office stated that two immigration detainees had tested positive for Covid-19 and that they had been placed in isolation in the Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva. One of the positive Covid-19 cases received medical assistance at the Cantonal Hospital (HUG) and the other remained in isolation in prison and was serving a prison sentence. Immigration detainees placed in the Frambois immigration detention centre since the end of May have not been tested for Covid-19 upon entry. As former criminal prisoners subject to deportation orders, the protocol followed requires the nurse to contact the facility where these persons were previously detained prior to their transfer to Frambois in order to enquire about their health and to know whether a Covid-19 test has been undertaken. At present, it seems that only persons showing symptoms of the disease are tested in criminal facilities.2020
Since the beginning of April, certain immigration detention centres, including the Frambois and Favra centres in Geneva, have been closed. Around 30 people were detained in the centres at the time. Reports suggest that they may have been assigned to a temporary residence or may be prohibited from entering a specific perimeter or region. The situation in Geneva is complicated by the fact that detention spaces in the canton are shared with other cantons as part of an agreement, or “concordat.” However, according to Tribune de Genève, Geneva is taking charge of all detainees previously held in the Vaud and Neuchâtel cantons. In Bern, certain immigration detainees have been released by order of the court. Nonetheless, the Director of Security of Bern rejected a request to release all immigration detainees and stated that every case is examined individually. At the end of March, it was reported that around a dozen asylum seekers and seven employees had been infected with the virus in the federal asylum centres. The halt of deportations may also have legal consequences, as reported by the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. As authorities have a period of six months to return rejected asylum seekers in Dublin procedures, depending upon the duration of the Covid-19 crisis, numerous deportations may no longer be feasible. As stated by Marcel Suter from the cantonal migration authorities, “if returns are stopped for a long time, it is difficult to get them going again.” Migrant workers in irregular situations in Switzerland (estimated at 100,000) have been left in a precarious situation due to the coronavirus crisis. Various organisations and support centres in Zurich, Lucerne, Basel, Bern, Geneva, and Lausanne have been providing food and food vouchers. However, requests for advice and financial support have continued to flood in. Bea Schwager, head of the Zurich centre SPAZ (Sans-Papiers Anlaufstelle Zürich), said that “in Zurich, over 400 people have called us for financial aid to cover essential expenses during confinement.” She added that the organisation had “received about CHF 100,000 but much of that money has already been spent.” In Lausanne, before the crisis, the Protestant church gave out 80 food rations, whereas today, it distributes 350. In mid-April, the Protestant Social Centre and the Vaud Collective Support of Sans Papiers, together with other organisations, wrote to the federal, cantonal, and municipal authorities requesting financial aid and other support for the most vulnerable. For now however, no response has been provided. On 1 April, the Swiss Federal Council passed a legal order (ordonnance Covid-19 asile) regarding the measures taken with respect to asylum in view of the Covid-19 crisis. Article 6 of the order allows the Swiss Migration Secretariat (Secrétariat d’Etat aux Migrations, or SEM) to conduct an interview without a legal representative being present with the asylum seeker. In addition, following a review of the asylum legislation in March 2019, time limits for appeals against negative asylum decisions had been reduced from 30 days to 7. The order has now amended this time-frame and re-established a 30 day period for people to respond to decisions by the SEM. In some of the country’s prisons, alternatives to incarceration have been implemented. In Bern, 27 vulnerable prisoners that were accommodated in open or semi-open prisons have been released. In addition, sentences of less than 30 days for prisoners that “do not present any risk for society” have been suspended. In the Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva, the number of inmates has been reduced from 650 to 560 as certain detainees have been assigned to house arrest, given electronic tags and others have been given reporting obligations. As of 15 April, authorities had confirmed that there were 35 people that tested positive in prisons, including 33 staff members.2020
Swiss authorities have temporarily closed some immigration detention facilities, and detainees who have contracted the virus have been placed in isolation in prisons. In the early stages of the virus’ spread within the country, three Covid-19 cases were detected within federal asylum centres (Chevrilles, Basel, and Bern). Transfers between such facilities were subsequently reduced, but the State Secretariat for Migration (‘SEM’) decided against introducing systematic testing for Covid-19. As cases continued to rise within the country, various NGOs and official bodies urged the adoption of additional measures to protect vulnerable persons. On 18 March, Solidarité Sans Frontières’ called for several measures, including: access to health for asylum seekers; the release of immigration detainees; and the suspension of deportations. On 20 March, staff working at the Basel federal asylum centre criticised the lack of protective measures within the facility. The employees stated that approximately 200 refugees lived in the centre, most of them sleeping in 12 person rooms, and they were practically “shoulder to shoulder when serving food.” The SEM denied these allegations and said that it was following the Federal Office of Health’s recommendations in asylum centres. On 23 March 2020, a detainee at the Frambois immigration detention centre tested positive and was thus placed in isolation at the Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva. A staff member also contracted the virus, and three other detainees were placed in isolation at the Geneva prison. The Frambois and Favra detention centres in Geneva were temporarily closed and detainees released. During a protest in early April at the Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva, some 40 prisoners refused to return to their cells in the afternoon protesting against the conditions of their detention due to the measures taken to avoid the spread of Covid-19. The prisoners later complied with orders and returned to their cells.2020

International Law Expand all

International treaties Show sources
NameRatification Year
CRPD, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2014
ICPED, International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance2016
ICCPR, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights1992
ICESCR, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights1992
ICERD, International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination1994
CEDAW, Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women1997
CAT, Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment1986
OPCAT, Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment2009
CRC, Convention on the Rights of the Child1997
CRSR, Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1955
PCRSR, Protocol to the Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees1968
CRSSP, Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons1972
CTOCTP, Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children2006
CTOCSP, Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime2006
OP CRC Communications Procedure2017
VCCR, Vienna Convention on Consular Relations1965
Ratio of relevant international treaties ratified
  16/19
International treaty reservations Show sources
NameReservation YearObservation Date
CRC Article 371997
CRC Article 401997
Individual complaints procedure Show sources
NameAcceptance Year
ICERD, declaration under article 14 of the Convention2003
CEDAW, Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 19992008
CAT, declaration under article 22 of the Convention1986
Ratio of complaints procedures accepted Show sources
NumberObservation Date
3/5
3/5
Relevant recommendations issued by treaty bodies Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation Year
Human Rights Committee§34. The Committee takes note of the progress made in the granting of legal aid to asylum seekers. It remains concerned, however, about reports that migrants are being placed in administrative detention virtually as a matter of course and that adults are not separated from unaccompanied minors (arts. 7, 9 and 13). §35. The State party should: (a) pursue its efforts with respect to the granting of legal aid to asylum seekers and ensure that they have access to remedies; (b) see to it that adults and unaccompanied minors are strictly separated ; and (c) establish and apply alternative measures to administrative detention. §36. The Committee notes that efforts made to improve conditions of detention. It wishes to express concern, however, about information that, in certain regional institutions, juveniles are held with adults and are not adequately supervised (arts. 7, 9, 10 and 24). §37. The State party should: (a) pursue its efforts to reduce prison overcrowding, in particular by applying non-custodial measures, including in respect of foreign detainees; and (b) ensure strict separation of adults and juveniles and adequate supervision of the latter.2017
Committee against Torture

§ 17: The State party should develop and implement alternatives to administrative detention and should use detention only as a last resort, particularly where unaccompanied minors are concerned, and, when detention is necessary and proportionate, for as short a period as possible. The State should continue its efforts to provide special facilities in all cantons in order to accommodate migrants in administrative detention under an appropriate regime.

2015
Committee against Torture

§ 13: The State party should reconsider the maximum period of administrative detention, resort to it only in exceptional circumstances and limit its duration in light of the principle of proportionality.

§ 17: The State party must also take measures to ensure that minors and adults, as well as detainees serving under different prison regimes, are separated. Finally, it must take steps to ensure the application of legislation and procedures concerning health-care access for all prisoners, especially those with psychiatric problems.

2010

Recommendations issued by regional human rights mechanisms Show sources
NameRecommendation ExcerptRecommendation YearObservation Date
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT)§ 37: agir au plus vite aux niveaux fédéral, concordataire et cantonal afin que les personnes faisant l’objet de mesures de contrainte en matière de droit sur les étrangers ne soient pas hébergées en milieu carcéral et soient toujours placées dans des centres spécifiquement conçus à cet effet, répondant aux critères énoncés dans les 7ème et 19ème rapports généraux du CPT. En attendant, lorsqu’il n’y a encore aucune alternative au placement en milieu carcéral, il convient de veiller à ce que les personnes concernées bénéficient de conditions de détention appropriées.20122020

Bilateral/multilateral agreements linked to readmission Show sources
NameYear in ForceObservation Date
Austria19112017
Croatia19932017
Kuwait20172017
Tunisia20142017
Albania20002017
Algeria20072017
Armenia20052017
Bosnia and Herzegovina20092017
Bulgaria20092017
Croatia19972017
Czech Republic20112017
Estonia19982017
Finland20102017
France20002017
Georgia20052017
Germany19942017
Greece20092017
Hong Kong20002017
Hungary19952017
Italy20002017
Kyrgyzstan20032017
Kosovo20102017
Latvia19982017
Lebanon20062017
Lithuania19962017
Macedonia20122017
Moldova20112017
Norway20052017
Philippines20032017
Poland20062017
Romania20092017
Russian Federation20112017
Serbia20102017
Slovakia20072017
Slovenia20052017
Sweden20032017
Ukraine20042017
United Kingdom20062017
Viet Nam20062017
Spain20052017
Luxembourg20072017
Netherlands20072017
Belgium20072017
Austria20012017
Montenegro20112017
Benin20122017
Afghanistan20062017
Denmark20132017
Sierra Leone20042017
China20042004
Sri Lanka19941994

Visits by special procedures of the Human Rights Council Show sources
NameYear of VisitObservation Date
Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance2006
Relevant recommendations of the UN Universal Periodic Review Show sources
Recomendation IssuedYear IssuedObservation Date
No20082020
Yes2012

Institutions Expand all

Federal or centralized governing system Show sources
Federal or centralized governing systemObservation Date
Federal system2020
Centralized or decentralized immigration authority Show sources
Centralized or decentralized immigration authorityObservation Date
Decentralized immigration authority2020

Custodial authority Show sources
AgencyMinistryMinistry TypologyObservation Date
Canton Bern, Migrationsdienst des Kantons Bern/ Einwohnerdienste, Migration und Fremdenpolizei der Stadt BernCanton Bern, Migrationsdienst des Kantons Bern/ Einwohnerdienste, Migration und Fremdenpolizei der Stadt BernRegional Authority-Immigration or Citizenship2020
Office cantonal de la population et des migrations (OCPM)Canton of Geneva, Office cantonal de la population / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / Service des Migrations, Canton NeuchâtelRegional Authority-Immigration or Citizenship2020
Migration Office Department of Security and Justice, Migration Office, Canton Appenzell AusserrhodenRegional Authority-Internal or Public Security2020
Office for Migration, Canton Basel-Stadt / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / Office for Migration, Canton Basel-Landschaft2011
Canton St. Gallen, Ausländeramt des Kantons St. Gallen2011
Canton Zurich, Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud2011
Office for Migration and Integration, Canton Aargau2011
Canton Bern, Migrationsdienst des Kantons Bern / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / Service des Migrations, Canton Neuchâtel2011
Canton Bern, Migrationsdienst des Kantons Bern/ Einwohnerdienste, Migration und Fremdenpolizei der Stadt Bern / Service des Migrations, Canton Neuchâtel2011
Canton Basel-Stadt, Justiz- und Sicherheitsdepartement, Bevölkerungsdienste und Migration2011
Department of Corrections, Canton Glarus2011
Kantonales Migrationsamt, Canton Schaffhausen2011
Office for Migration, Canton Schwyz2011
Migration und Schweizer Ausweise, Asyl und Rückkehr, Canton Solothurn2011
Office for Migration, Canton Zug2011
Canton of Geneva, Office cantonal de la population, Service Étrangers et Confédérés2011
Department of Security and Justice, Migration Office, Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden2011
Service de la population et des migrants, Canton Fribourg / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / Service des Migrations, Canton Neuchâtel2011
Canton St Gallen / Canton Appenzell Inerrhoden2011
Canton Nidwald, Amt für Justiz Abteilung Migration / Office for Migration and Labour, Canton Uri2011
Canton Zurich, Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich2011
Office Federale des MigrationsFederal Department of Justice and PoliceJustice2011
Service des Migrations, Canton Neuchâtel2011
Department of Asylum and Repatriation, Migration Office, Canton Lucerne2011
Department of Justice and Security, Migration, Canton Thurgau2011
Canton Grison, Amt für Polizeiwesen und Zivilrecht / Canton Ticino2011
Justiz, Polizei and Militärdepartement, Canton Appenzell Inerrhoden2011
Migration Department, Canton Obwalden2011
Canton Bern, Migrationsdienst des Kantons Bern/ Einwohnerdienste, Migration und Fremdenpolizei der Stadt Bern / Service des Migrations, Canton NeuchâtelRegional Authority-Immigration or Citizenship2011
Migration Office Department of Security and Justice, Migration Office, Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden2011
Office for MigrationOffice for Migration, Canton Basel-Stadt / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / Office for Migration, Canton Basel-Landschaft2011
Office for MigrationService de la population et des migrants, Canton Fribourg / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud / 2011
Migration OfficeDepartment of Asylum and Repatriation, Migration Office, Canton Lucerne2011
Service des MigrationsService des Migrations, Canton Neuchâtel2011
Migration OfficeCanton Nidwald, Amt für Justiz Abteilung Migration / Office for Migration and Labour, Canton Uri2011
Migration OfficeMigration Department, Canton Obwalden2011
Migration OfficeCanton St. Gallen, Ausländeramt des Kantons St. Gallen2011
Justiz, Polizei and Militärdepartement, Canton Appenzell Inerrhoden2011
Justiz, Polizei and Militärdepartement, Canton Appenzell InerrhodenJustiz, Polizei and Militärdepartement, Canton Appenzell InerrhodenRegional Authority-Internal or Public Security2011
Office for Migration and Integration, Canton Aargau2011
Canton St Gallen / Canton Appenzell Inerrhoden2011
Canton Basel-Stadt, Justiz- und Sicherheitsdepartement, Bevölkerungsdienste und Migration2011
Office for Migration, Canton Schwyz2011
Department of Corrections, Canton Glarus2011
Canton Grison, Amt für Polizeiwesen und Zivilrecht / Canton Ticino2011
Kantonales Migrationsamt, Canton Schaffhausen2011
Migration und Schweizer Ausweise, Asyl und Rückkehr, Canton Solothurn2011
Office for Migration, Canton Zug2011
Canton Zurich, Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich / Service de la Population, Canton Vaud2011
Republique et Canton de Genève2008
Service de la population et des migrants, Canton Fribourg2008
Canton Lucerne, Amt für Migration2008
Canton Grison, Amt für Polizeiwesen und Zivilrecht2008
Canton Basel-Landschaft, Amt für Migration2008
Canton Ticino, Sezione della popolazione Ufficio della migrazione2008
Canton St Gallen, Ausländeramt des Kantons St. Gallen2008
Canton Zurich, Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich2008
Canton Solothurn, Amt für öffentliche Sicherheit2008
Service de la population et des migrants, Canton Fribourg2008
Canton Grison, Amt für Polizeiwesen und Zivilrecht2008
Canton Basel-Landschaft, Amt für Migration2008
Republique et Canton de Genève2008
Canton Solothurn, Amt für öffentliche Sicherheit2008
Canton St Gallen, Ausländeramt des Kantons St. Gallen2008
Canton Lucerne, Amt für Migration2008
Canton Ticino, Sezione della popolazione Ufficio della migrazione2008
Canton Zurich, Migrationsamt des Kantons Zürich2008
Detention Facility Management Show sources
Entity NameEntity TypeObservation Date
Chef de service, service de l'application des peines et mesures, Departement des Institutions, Republique et Canton de GenèveGovernmental2020
Conseil de la Fondation romande de détention LMCGovernmental2020
Canton Ticino, Justice DepartmentGovernment-local2020
Etat de FribourgGovernmental2020
Canton de GlarusGovernmental2020
Canton des GrisonsGovernmental2020
Canton GrisonGovernment-local2020
Canton de LucerneGovernment-local2020
Canton NeuchatelGovernment-local2020
Canton de NidwaldGovernment-local2020
Canton d'ObwaldGovernment-local2020
Canton de St GallenGovernment-local2020
Canton de St GallGovernment-local2020
Canton de SoleureGovernment-local2020
Canton SchwyzGovernment-local2020
Canton de ZurichGovernment-local2020
Canton de ZougGovernment-local2020
Canton d'ArgovieGovernment-local2020
Canton de BerneGovernment-local2020
Canton du JuraGovernment-local2020
Canton de GenèveGovernmental2020
Cantonal PoliceGovernment-local2020
Department of Security and Justice (Canton Appenzell Ausserrhoden) Government-local2020
Office of Police and Military Affairs (Polizei- und Militärdirektion)Government-local2020
Formally designated detention estate? Show sources
Formally designated immigration detention estate?Types of officially designated detention centresObservation Date
No2020
Types of detention facilities used in practice Show sources
Immigration detention centre (Administrative)Immigration field office (Administrative)Transit centre (Administrative)Reception centre (Administrative)Offshore detention centre (Administrative)Hospital (Administrative)Border guard (Administrative)Police station (Criminal)National penitentiary (Criminal)Local prison (Criminal)Juvenile detention centre (Criminal)Informal camp (Ad hoc)Immigration detention centre (Ad hoc)Surge facility (Ad hoc)Observation Date
YesYesYes2020

Authorized monitoring institutions Show sources
InstitutionInstitution TypeObservation Date
National Commission for the Prevention of Torture OPCAT National Preventive Mechanism (NPM)2020
European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) International or Regional Bodies (IRBs)2020
Federal Commission against Racism (Eidgenössische Kommission gegen Rassismus EKR)National Human Rights Institution (or Ombudsperson) (NHRI)2020
Is the national human rights institution (NHRI) recognized as independent? Show sources
Is the NHRI recognized as independent by the International Coordinating Committee of National Human Rights Institutions?Observation Date
No2020
Does national preventive mechanism (NPM) carry out visits? Show sources
Does NPM carry out visits in practice?Observation Date
Yes2020
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention? Show sources
Does NPM publicly release reports on immigration detention?Observation Date
Yes2020
Do NGOs carry out visits? Show sources
Do NGOs regularly carry our visits?Observation Date
Yes2019
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits? Show sources
Do parliamentary organs carry out visits?Observation Date
Yes2019
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings? Show sources
Do parliamentary organs publicly report on their detention findings?Observation Date
Yes2019
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRBs) visit immigration-related detention facilities? Show sources
Do international and/or regional bodies (IRB) regularly visit immigration-related detention facilities?Observation Date
Yes2020
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from inspections? Show sources
Do IRBs publicly report their findings from detention inspections?Observation Date
Yes2020

Socio Economic Data Expand all

Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD) Show sources
Gross Domestic Product per capita (in USD)Observation Date
82,8282018
85,5942014
80,5282013
79,0522012
Remittances to the country Show sources
Remittances to the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
2,5192019
2,7372015
2,9012011
Remittances from the country Show sources
Remittances from the country (in millions USD)Observation Date
26,7502018
21,6112010
Unemployment Rate Show sources
Unemployment RateObservation Date
52019
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in millions USD) Show sources
Net official development assistance (ODA) (in USD)Observation Date
3,120.782019
3,0452012
3,0512011
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP) Show sources
Human Development Index Ranking (UNDP)UNDP four-tiered rankingObservation Date
2Very high2019
3Very high2014
9Very high2012

Immigration Index Score Show sources
Immigration Integration RankingObservation Date
212014
232011
World Bank Rule of Law Index Show sources
Percentile rank among all countries (ranges from 0 (lowest) to 100 (highest) rank)Estimate of governance (ranges from approximately -2.5 (weak) to 2.5 (strong) )Observation Date
991.932018
97-0.82012
94-12011
95-0.92010

Country Links


Additional Resources


Switzerland Immigration Detention Data Profile

Many of Switzerland’s immigration detention practices contrast sharply with those of its neighbours. For instance, when compared to detention centres elsewhere in Europe, some Swiss detention sites—like its Frambois facility in Geneva—have been lauded for having a comparatively humane regime. On the other hand, the country continues to make widespread use of prisons for immigration […]

Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis”

This book offers a unique comparative assessment of the evolution of immigration detention systems in European Union member states since the onset of the “refugee crisis.” By applying an analytical framework premised on international human rights law in assessing domestic detention regimes, the book reveals the extent to which EU legislation has led to the adoption of laws and practices that may disregard fundamental rights and standards.

Prison for Profit

On 7 March, GDP Director Michael Flynn joined Abdul Aziz Muhamat (2019 Martin Ennals Prize Winner), Ilse Van Velzen (filmmaker), Ruth Hopkins (investigative journalist), Agnès Callamard (UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions and Director of “Freedom of Expression”), and journalist Luc Hermann to discuss the privatisation of prisons and administrative detention in […]

Global Working Group of National Societies Working in Immigration Detention

On 20 March, the GDP was invited to make a presentation about our report “Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention” at the annual meeting of the Global Working Group of National Societies Working in Immigration Detention, a gathering of National Societies of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement co-hosted by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Harm Reduction in Immigration Detention

This Global Detention Project Special Report systematically compares conditions and operations at detention centres in several European countries to identify practices that may be used to develop “harm reducing” strategies in detention.

Discipline and Punish? Analysis of the Purposes of Immigration Detention in Europe

Pre-removal detention is usually considered an administrative measure aimed at the facilitation of the removal of irregular migrants by preventing them from absconding during removal proceedings. The administrative nature of immigration detention implies that persons subject to this measure do not have access to the fair trial guarantees that criminal detainees are entitled to. However, the assessment of pre-removal detention under European Union and Swiss legislation demonstrates the penal nature of such detention despite its formal administrative classification.

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

Immigration Detention in Switzerland

This Global Detention Project Special Report provides a first-of-its-kind view of the Swiss immigration detention system. When compared to detention facilities elsewhere in Europe, some Swiss detention sites—like its Frambois facility, located just outside Geneva—have decidedly good reputations for their humane conditions. On the other hand, many Swiss detention practices and policies have been heavily […]

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