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Switzerland

Geneva To “Delinquent” Asylum Seekers: Here's Cash For A (One-Way) Ticket Home

Authorities in Switzerland’s Geneva canton would love to bid adieu to the area’s non law-abiding asylum seekers. They’re now offering people a new incentive to ship off on their own accord: cash. But when does the offer go too far?

(Kuster & Wildhaber Photography)
(Kuster & Wildhaber Photography)
Mirko Plüss

GENEVA - The region around Geneva is experimenting with a new approach to the problem of so-called delinquent asylum seekers: money for a one-way ticket home. Under a pilot project, authorities are offering asylum seekers who've run afoul of the law the cash needed to help pay for their trip home – presuming they decide to go voluntarily.

Renata Gäumann, a migration expert and coordinator of the Basel-Stadt canton asylum and refugee office, defends the principle – even where delinquent asylum seekers are involved. "An incentive system can be very effective when sanctions don't work anymore," she says. The proper balance must be maintained, however, between asylum seekers leaving the country on the one hand and the application of existing laws on the other.

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Mariateresa Fichele

Fifteen years ago, Francesco kept busy by scamming people. He was a regular visitor to the beaches of Terracina, south of Rome, where he was caught several times selling counterfeit Ray-Ban sunglasses. Then came the drugs, which fed a serious substance-induced psychosis and eventually he tested positive for HIV.

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