Zug, 29.10.2020

Turk must leave Switzerland after 33 years

The recognised refugee unsuccessfully opposed his deportation. The Federal Court thereby upheld the decision of the Zug authorities.

The Turk came to Switzerland in April 1987, where he was recognised as a refugee and granted asylum. The immigration police (Fremdenpolizei) of the canton of Zug, as the Office for Migration was called at the time, granted him a residence permit (Aufenthaltsbewilligung). Now, 33 years later, he has to leave the country. The Zug Office for Migration already revoked his settlement permit (Niederlassungsbewilligung) in November 2015. Since then, the case has gone from one instance to the next, and in the meantime back again.

The original decision has not been changed, however which is why the 65-year-old appealed to the Federal Court. He should only have been warned, he argued. The residence permit of a recognised refugee may only be revoked under certain conditions, for example if the person has seriously violated public security and public order.

In July 2008, the Zug Criminal Court sentenced the Turk to 39 months in prison for, among other things, theft, robbery and rape, and in particular for burglaries in two single-family houses. At the first act, he raped a resident, and, in the second burglary, he tied up and threatened a married couple. Due to a narcissistic personality disorder, an inpatient therapeutic measure was ordered, which was discontinued in 2012 as a recovery was considered to be hopeless. The man had become a criminal offender even before these offences. He was also convicted of money laundering in early 2015, after he was released from prison. In the recently published judgment, the Federal Court states: "The complainant's constant delinquency testifies to his intransigence and incorrigibility."

The public interest prevails
A reason for revoking a permit is not sufficient grounds for the deportation of a recognised refugee from Switzerland. In addition, proportionality and the so-called principle of ‘non-refoulement’ – no one should be forced to travel to a country where his person, life or freedom is endangered, for example because of his nationality or political views – must be respected. The Turk considers that these criteria have not been met. The Federal Court, on the other hand, came to a different conclusion: in view of the serious acts he has committed, there is a particularly strong public interest in the deportation of the 65-year-old. The judges considered his private interests in staying in Switzerland to be subordinate for two reasons: on the one hand, his social re-integration cannot be described as successful, while, on the other, a new start in Turkey is reasonable. The Federal Court refers to the AHV pension that he will continue to receive following his return, which is why he will not be completely penniless. He also spent his entire childhood in Turkey, and was still familiar with the language and the culture there.

A possible arrest in Turkey
Even with his argument that deportation would be a violation of the principle of non-refoulement, the complainant was not able to convince the supreme court. He had argued that, as a deserter and a critic of the regime at that time, he was threatened with a prison sentence of several years. Although the Federal Court admits that he faces arrest in Turkey, the prison sentence would most likely be converted into a fine. "Even if the complainant were to be threatened with a custodial sentence on his return due to his desertion, this is a criminal prosecution under the rule of law in his home state, which, in principle, does not constitute a persecution that is relevant to refugees," the Federal Court judges, dismissing the appeal.

Note: Federal Court judgment 2C_766/2019 of 14 September 2020