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Liberals skewer SVP criminal deportation plan

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12:36 CEST+02:00

A legal study commissioned by Switzerland's liberal FDP has found that the country risks a destabilizing confrontation with the EU if it approves a Swiss People’s Party (SVP) proposal to deport foreign criminals.

Conducted by the University of Freiburg, the research leaves no room for doubt: the SVP’s initiative would land Switzerland in hot water with the EU. Any breach of the principle of freedom of movement for EU citizens would cause Brussels to enact a ‘guillotine clause’, effectively cancelling Switzerland's bilateral agreements with the union.

"Those bilateral agreements have brought us prosperity and a lot of jobs while allowing us to keep our independence,” said Free Democratic Party (FDP) president Fulvio Pelli on Monday during the presentation of the study in Bern. The FDP strongly opposes the initiative, which calls for the automatic deportation of foreign nationals found guilty of a crime in Switzerland.

If passed, the new law would infringe some of the EU’s basic principles, such as discrimination based on nationality, argued Julia Hänni, the law professor who led the study.

According to the FDP, any such law would be viewed as a hostile move by the EU, which could take advantage of the situation by pushing Switzerland on other sensitive issues, such as bank confidentiality or the automatic adoption of European law.

On October 1st, the SVP announced at a rally in Aargau that it would launch a second initiative for the automatic deportation of foreign criminals. According to party leaders, the objective of the second initiative is to force the Federal Council to put into practice a constitutional amendment that was previously supported by a majority of Swiss in a November 28th 2010 referendum.

But Social Democratic Party justice minister, Simonetta Sommaruga, and the study group she commissioned, rejected the inclusion of “automatic deportation” for criminal foreigners when the first initiative was passed into law.

The new text proposed by the SVP initiative will be clearer and more direct, making it impossible for the consequences for foreign criminals to be disputed once the provisions are written into the constitution.

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