• Switzerland's news in English

International law stops Swiss expulsion plans

Lyssandra Sears · 27 Apr 2012, 10:01

Published: 27 Apr 2012 10:51 GMT+02:00
Updated: 27 Apr 2012 10:01 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

The Swiss Minister of Justice has presented two proposals for the implementation of a controversial initiative to expel foreign criminals, both of which were rejected by the government.


Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga, a Social Democrat, went into Wednesday's meeting reasonably secure in the knowledge that her proposals would not be accepted, newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported.

Nevertheless, her department said that she had gone ahead anyway because she “wanted to show through the proposals that she takes the will of the people seriously”.

The initiative for the expulsion of foreign criminals, launched by the far-right Swiss People’s Party, was accepted in a referendum 2010.

Since then, ministers have struggled to find a way to implement the provisions of the initiative, since the concept of automatic expulsion for foreign criminals runs contrary to a variety of international legal principles and obligations that Switzerland has signed up to.

Sommaruga has received criticism for the delay, criticism she will now be able to deflect since she can no longer be seen as the reason for the hold-up. 

One of the difficulties in framing the new law involves determining what the correct threshold should be in order for a foreign criminal to qualify for expulsion. 

The Swiss People’s Party has sought automatic expulsion for any foreigner committing any level of crime, including minor offences. On this basis, an estimated 16,000 foreigners would have been expelled in 2009, including some 3,200 from EU countries.

The other alternative presented by Sommaruga is to expel only those foreign criminals who have committed serious crimes incurring jail sentences of six months or more. This would have affected 3,400 foreigners in 2009, only 790 of whom were EU citizens.

Story continues below…

Many critics, including foreign minister Didier Burkhalter, are concerned that any such law would infringe the free movement of people and create further tensions with the EU.

The government has asked Sommaruga to come back with a less severe proposal before the summer break.

Switzerland is not currently on the best terms with the EU, having announced recently its intention to invoke a safeguard clause in its bilateral agreement with the union, which will restrict the numbers of work permits granted to the citizens of eight East European EU member states.

Lyssandra Sears (news@thelocal.ch)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

2012-04-27 19:16:10 by nightwish
Common sense politics.Wish we had some common sense politicians in the uk that would expel all foreign criminals.The EU and British Politicians have one thing in common, total idiots.
Today's headlines
Presented by MoneyPark
How to get a mortgage in Switzerland
Houses in Zürich. Photo: Pixabay.

Ready to buy? Here’s what you need to know as an expat about Swiss regulations, how to finance your purchase, and why you should use a broker.

Autumn in Switzerland: ten stunning Instagram photos
Photo: Swiss Tourism/Jan Geerk

Switzerland is beautiful in all seasons, but as these photos show, autumn is a special time in the alpine country.

Report: Swiss progress slows on gender equality
File photo: David Soulivet

Globally, it will take 170 years to achieve gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum.

Brothers go to court to stop suicide of sibling
File photo: Lisa Edmonds

Two men have filed a legal bid to prevent the Swiss assisted suicide association Exit from helping their older brother to kill himself.

Wawrinka snubs past form to reach Basel second round
Wawrinka beat local wildcard Marco Chiudinelli. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

US Open champion Stan Wawrinka has reached the second round in Basel after going out in the first round for the past four years.

Villagers asked to help fund bridge renovations
The bridge links the two villages of Veltheim (pictured) and Holderbank. Photo: Lutz Fischer-Lamprecht

The crowdfunding campaign by the two communes is the first of its kind in Switzerland.

Police discover body buried in Orbe house
File photo: Bas Leenders

Police have opened an investigation after finding a body buried in a house in Orbe, in the canton of Vaud, on Saturday.

Valais shaken by 4.2 magnitude earthquake
The earthquake hit in the canton of Valais near Sierre. Photo: Alain Rouiller

It's the biggest earthquake to hit the country for two years.

Swiss Indoors kicks off without champ Federer
Federer celebrates with ball girls and boys after winning the event in 2015. Photo: Harold Cunningham/Pool/AFP

Stan Wawrinka is top seed as injured Federer sits it out.

IOC hires Russian doping whistleblower as consultant
IOC President Thomas Bach confirmed the news. File photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has hired Vitaly Stepanov as a consultant and is helping his runner wife Yuliya.

Photo: Unterirdisch Ueberleben
Inside Switzerland’s largest nuclear bunker – 40 years on
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Photo: The Local
Ticino firefighters rescue cow from swimming pool
Photo: Antoni Da Campo
Vegan wins battle to be accepted by Swiss army
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Ten Swiss ski resorts named most expensive in Europe
Photo: Randy Kashka
Swiss women will ‘work for free’ for the rest of year
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Montreux throws hat in Olympic rings
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Seven things you’ll miss about Switzerland if you leave
Photo: Richard Juilliard/AFP
Man makes Geneva airport bomb threat ‘for a joke’
Photo: AFP
Solar Impulse team reveals plans for unmanned plane
File photo: Martin Abegglen
Swiss to vote on passport rules for 3rd gen foreigners
Photo: AFP
Swiss wingsuit hotspot Lauterbrunnen won’t impose ban
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Six reasons Switzerland isn’t as boring as you might think
Photo: Swiss Tourism
Report: Switzerland one of world’s best places for girls
Photo: The Local
Thief returns Swiss cow bells worth thousands
File photo: Wikimedia Commons
One in three rapists isn’t locked up: statistics
Photo: activistin.ch
Tampon-tax protest turns Zurich fountains red
Photo: AFP
Geneva police to lift ban on bearded officers
Photo: Marcel Gillieron/AFP
Suicide chef’s restaurant keeps Michelin stars
Photo: Lara de Salis
11 things the Swiss get tired of hearing abroad
Photo:  Ivo Scholz/Swiss-image.ch
Survey: expats in Switzerland have money but few friends
Photo: AFP
Swiss press criticize Bern’s 'capitulation' on immigration
Photo: Jura Trois Lacs tourism
German ex-policeman is Swiss city’s new hermit
Photo: Dmitry A. Mottl
Ticino votes to favour local workers over foreigners
jobs available