Switzerland: KICKING OUT CRIMINALS: Deportation initiative raises more legal questions

Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga and Martin Dumermuth, director of the Justice Ministry, speak about the latest developments in the deportation initiative (Keystone)

swissinfo.ch and agencies
November 20, 2013 – 16:37

Cabinet has urged parliament to strike a clause in an initiative calling for the automatic deportation of foreigners found guilty of a crime. The rightwing proposal aims to speed up enforcement of a related constitutional amendment approved by voters.

Wednesday’s decision is the latest chapter in a long debate over how the amendment, brought by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party and approved by 52% of voters in November 2010, should be implemented.

In order to put pressure on the government to enforce the automatic deportation, the People’s Party launched another initiative at the end of 2012 specifically aimed at speeding up the process.

However, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga told a news conference that one particular clause in the latest initiative violates international law.

“It is not up to an individual country to define details of mandatory international law,” she said.

The initiative narrows the definition of international law to “exclusively the prohibition of torture, genocide, war of aggression, slavery and the prohibition of returning an individual to a country where torture or death threatens them.”

Sommaruga dismissed allegations that the government was ignoring a decision by a majority voters who approved the automatic deportation of criminal foreigners.

The People’s Party called cabinet’s recommendation “absurd”, adding that it is causing “the obstruction against deporting foreign criminals to become increasingly insidious and dangerous.”

The latest deportation initiative attempts to address some of the points slowing down the implementation of the 2010 law by listing, in detail, the crimes for which foreigners would be deported from Switzerland. It also seeks the automatic deportation of foreigners convicted of serious crimes regardless of whether they are repeat offenders or the specifics of the crime.

The People’s Party said it was considering launching yet another initiative putting Swiss law above international law.

In modern Swiss history parliament has declared four initiatives as invalid, in 1955, 1977, 1995 and 1996. It has never before declared null and void an individual clause or section of an initiative.


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