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Rights activist Lanz loses appeal against asylum conviction

Published on August 07, 2020

Human rights activist Anni Lanz has lost another appeal against a judgement condemning her for having helped a rejected Afghan asylum seeker illegally return to Switzerland from Italy.

The Swiss Federal Court ruled on Friday that there were no grounds to overturn the original decision by a local court in canton Valais, which fined Lanz CHF800 ($874) in December 2018.

The 74-year-old Lanz – a former head of the Solidarité sans Frontiers NGO – had previously also seen her appeal rejected by a regional level court.

Friday’s federal court judgement did not uphold Lanz’s claim that she had acted due to the extremity of the Afghan man’s situation. After deserting the Afghan army and fleeing to rejoin family members in Switzerland, he had developed serious psychological problems after learning of the killing of his wife and children back in Afghanistan, the court heard.

For the judges, however, the man’s situation and subsequent expulsion to Italy did not fall under the prohibition of “inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” as defined by the European Convention on Human Rights.

Thus Lanz was still guilty of having broken the federal law on foreigners and integration.

The man had received treatment at a psychiatric clinic in Italy after being sent back there, the court said. Lanz said she had found him in desperate and frozen situation at the border train station of Domodossola, and that she saw no option but to bring him back into Switzerland.

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