Switzerland issues special passport for Afghans declared stateless

Switzerland issues special passport for Afghans declared stateless

With the help of Green Passport, undocumented Afghans living in Switzerland will soon be able to travel again

By Timo Kirez

GENEVA (AA) - Afghans living in Switzerland, who no longer have valid papers, are entitled to a special Swiss passport, the Swiss State Secretariat for Migration told public broadcaster SRF on Thursday.

The decision by the State Secretariat was preceded by a court ruling in July which stated that it was impossible for Afghans to obtain papers from their country and thus they had to be considered stateless.

The ruling was obtained by a young Afghan who refused to accept that he would never be allowed to leave Switzerland. Farid Abdelhaq, 24, has been living in Switzerland for seven years and has a valid residence permit.

However, Abdelhaq was no longer able to travel because he had spent years unsuccessfully trying to obtain new papers in his home country. Switzerland also initially refused to issue Abdelhaq a replacement passport, although freedom of movement in Switzerland is a constitutionally guaranteed right.

After the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government two years ago, the consulate in Geneva told him it was impossible to obtain papers. Abdelhaq therefore applied to the State Secretariat for Migration for travel documents, but his application was rejected. He took legal action against this.

In total, more than 30,000 Afghans in Switzerland are affected by this situation.

"Since 2021, I have gone to Geneva several times to get a passport. How long should you run after a passport - 20, 30 years, your whole life? It's not fair," Abdelhaq told SFR.

For Swiss lawyer Sandra Gisler, who represented Abdelhaq at the Federal Administrative Court, said the ruling is a breakthrough.

"These people can now exercise elementary basic rights, such as visiting family members abroad, again thanks to this ruling," Gisler told the broadcaster.

Affected Afghans can now get the so-called Green Swiss Passport for undocumented foreigners. With this, they can travel to the vast majority of countries, Daniel Bach, media spokesman for the SEM told SRF.

According to the spokesman, the new regulation applies to all Afghans who have a settlement or residence permit in Switzerland. However, asylum seekers or temporarily admitted persons must give a good reason for their trip. If this is accepted by the SEM, they will also receive a passport, Bach added.

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