Some Privacy please, Switzerland

Zürich Switzerland. All rights reserved

It’s been a few weeks that a representative of Swiss Embassy Pakistan, a lawyer perhaps, visited the family of a friend of mine who is living, working/studying here in Switzerland. Their family lives in Pakistan and they wanted to call their spouse to come live with them in Zurich. Now, as a part of the standard procedure for Swiss spouse VISA from Pakistan, a representative from the embassy visits the family and verify each document, asking some other random questions to verify the identity of the person and status of their marriage etc. Apparently, notarized and attested documents from Pakistan Foreign (FO) office are not enough that the candidate pays themself to embassy to send someone to verify. Why do we have NADRA and FO in the first place then? Anyways. So basically you apply for the VISA and after a month or two or three wait, they would send someone to verify, which is the same procedure followed by some other European countries as far as I know. But that’s not the topic of discussion here.

Moving on… and back to the story: this embassy representative shows up at their house after one and a half month of application, unannounced! No idea why couldn’t he first give them a heads up, maybe he just wanted to surprise them. He met with my friend’s family and spent around 7 hours (!) interviewing their spouse, parents, a person who did their Nikkah (a formal binding contract), and God knows who else.

No problem. But the real issue occurred, which is bugging me and which is the reason I am writing this story here, is that this representative took 3 hours to interview the spouse of my friend in which he asked them to show their private Whatsapp messages between husband and the wife and their marriage or general photos. He also asked how long were they having an affair before marriage (the question which is rude to ask in our culture or its inappropriate). WHAT KIND OF PRIVACY INVASION IS THIS??? If you want to verify documents, do it and if you want to ask people around to verify, do it, but why would someone show you their private Whatsapp conversation? It’s a violation of basic human rights.

Doesn’t these countries have privacy laws and regulations? They present themselves as the champion of such rights but when it comes to third-world countries, do we not have privacy? I am not sure if Swiss Embassy in Pakistan is aware about this or not but they should be and it’s on them. Isn’t this “harassment”? That you put pressure on someone and put them in a position where, if they refuse to show you their private conversations, you might reject their VISA application.

This is not just a one story; there are tons of such stories out there making people’s lives miserable. Read more here for such stories. In few cases, lawyer (the person who comes visit) you after financing his whole trip, expects you to pick them up from the stations; go to offices with them and also if you can give them some more money because, after all, you are going to Europe and you have money-growing trees there

I would like to know how is it acceptable because I am unable to find any reasonable answer. What if tomorrow your family wants to visit you in Switzerland and the same happens? What if it is your family or a partner who is to put in this situation where they have to show private photos and messages? Stop letting them exploit people and their situations, please.

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M. A. Jadoon

M. A. Jadoon

Marie Skłodowska-Curie Research Fellow. Student counselor. Sharing my perspective.