Sunday, 28 November 2010

Swiss referendum approves automatic expulsion of foreign criminals

Switzerland endorsed on Sunday a  push to automatically expel foreign residents convicted of certain crimes, to the dismay of critics who described it as a "dark day for human rights."
The approval of the initiative in a referendum was an expression of insecurity, the justice minister said, stressing the government would examine how to implement the new rule without violating its international obligations.


In the vote, 52.9 percent were in favour of automatic expulsions and 47.1 percent were against, with the country's German-speaking majority largely backing the proposal. Only six of the 26 cantons rejected the initiative.
The vote came exactly a year after Switzerland agreed to ban the construction of new minarets, which was another proposal backed by the Swiss People's Party (SVP).

The decision on Sunday "is a first step on the way towards greater security," said the SVP in a statement.
As with their campaign against minarets, the SVP launched an aggressive push for the expulsion of foreign criminals, saying those guilty of certain crimes should be stripped of their right to remain in the country.
Its signature poster illustrates a white sheep kicking a black sheep out of the Swiss flag. Another poster depicts a gangster-like man with the slogan "Ivan S., rapist, and soon a Swiss?".

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga noted that the "majority of the voters have sent a clear signal that they consider foreign criminality to be a serious problem."
It is "an expression of insecurity. I take this very seriously," she told journalists.

A working group would be set up to examine how the new rule could be implemented in a way that complies with the Swiss constitution and international conventions, she said.
"It is in the interest of all -- Swiss, foreigners and the Swiss economy -- that we have more clarity on this soon," she added.

Judges can already issue expulsion orders for foreign criminals but the SVP's initiative goes further by requiring automatic expulsions for those found guilty of "rape, serious sexual offence, acts of violence such as robbery," drug trafficking and "abuse of social aid."
According to the Federal Office of Migration, about 350 to 400 people are expelled every year but this figure would rise to 1,500 with the adoption of the new initiative.
Critics object that it smacks of discrimination and runs in the same xenophobic vein as the banning of minarets.

Amnesty International said the approval of the plan marked a "dark day for human rights in Switzerland."
"The initiative violates not only various international conventions... it is also contrary to the principle of proportionality and that of the ban on all forms of discrimination written into the federal constitution," said the rights group.
"The initiators have once more abused the right of an initiative to increase their political capital through xenophobic discourse," said the group, noting it could lead to refugees being sent back to countries where they could be tortured or killed.

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The statement made by 'Amnesty international' shows that they have no idea of the issue, a refugee should be showing gratitude to the country that has given them refuge, not commiting serious crime as a way of thanks. If a refugee is sent back to a country where they can be tortured or killed it is not the Swiss peoples problem, the refugee should have thought of this before commiting a crime. Maybe the refugee had to flee their country of origin because of commiting a crime, has Amnesty Internationl thought of that?.

You can read more reports on this breakthrough by clicking HERE

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