The government expressed its disdain for the proposal on Monday by stating that such a measure would “not be possible in a state of law."
“Deprivation of liberty is far from trivial. This is a serious violation of human rights,” the president of the Commission Against Racism, Martine Brunschwig Graf told newspaper Tribune de Genève in an interview.
Graf, a Liberal party member of parliament, pointed out that Switzerland already has the means for dealing with people who have broken the law or who refuse to return home. In particular, she pointed to the possibility in most cases of forcible returns.
However Graf acknowledged that there remains an issue for citizens of certain countries with whom Switzerland has no re-admission agreements in place. Nevertheless, she queried what would happen to these people should the internment idea succeed.
“Will we leave them locked up indefinitely with no prospect of getting out as it is impossible to return them? These people have not killed anyone!” she asked.
Graf believes that the issues are becoming further complicated by the political rhetoric used, particularly because the government is often seen as failing to deliver on its promises with regard to immigration. This in turn leads to disappointment and discontent, according to Graf.
She also said she could understand that people who had been in the country for four to five years would want to stay.
“This does not make them criminals,” she said.
“These refugees, economic or otherwise, do not come with a light heart. They come to Switzerland to find another life, and unfortunately, we do not have the capacity to accommodate them all.”