Swiss canton to record nationality of offenders

Voters in Solothurn, north-western Switzerland, voted on Sunday for an amendment to the law requiring police and judicial officers to record the nationalities of offenders and suspects.

The people of Solothurn voted yes to the controversial initiative with some 46,869 votes to 19,852, representing an overwhelming acceptance to the proposal by a little over 70 percent of the electorate, news agency SDA reported.

The vote means that amendments will need to be made to cantonal police laws, the Swiss Code of Criminal Procedure and the Swiss youth crime code.

In future, not only the age and gender of a suspect or perpetrator will be given in police press releases, but also the nationality of the individual. 

This represents a victory for the far-right Swiss People’s Party, whose members proposed the initiative.

Member of the Legal Commission and Swiss People’s Party member Oskar Freysinger pointed to the fact that some three quarters of Switzerland’s prison population are foreigners, online news website Basler Zeitung reported in February.

Freysinger said he no longer wants the fact that rich Switzerland is seen as an attractive place for foreigners to be swept under the carpet. Instead, Freysinger called for transparency.

Prior to Sunday’s vote, St. Gallen was the only other canton with such a regime.

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