Swiss-born man sent to country he doesn't know

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Swiss-born man sent to country he doesn't know
Even if you're born in Switzerland, you can be thrown out of the country. Photo:

Over the protests of his family, Swiss authorities have forced the extradition to Tunisia of a 24-year-old man born in Switzerland who is a Tunisian citizen but has never been to the North African country, according to a media report.


The man, identified as Medhi, was put on a plane to Tunis after his residential C permit was revoked in January because of repeated criminal convictions, 20 Minutes newspaper reported online.

Mehdi, who was born and raised in the canton of Vaud has a record for theft, damaging property, fighting and driving without a permit, the daily said.

But because he did not have a lawyer at the time, he reportedly missed the deadline for challenging the loss of his residency permit.

He had spent three years in Swiss prison and had been detained in an administrative detention centre in the canton of Geneva since December, 20 Minutes said.

But he had just sought his provisional release from the establishment when, without warning, he was ordered out of the country, the paper said.

“I could not even say goodbye to him,” the man’s mother is quoted as saying after he was put on a special flight to Tunisia on Wednesday.

She said her son knows nothing about Tunisia and knows no-one there.

Authorities in Vaud “have shown excessive severity,” Véronique Fontana, one of Mehdi’s lawyers told 20 Minutes.

“But without a valid residency permit, Mehdi no longer has the right to stay (in Switzerland).”

Children born in Switzerland to foreign parents do not have an automatic right to Swiss citizenship and are treated like foreigners.

While foreigners born in Switzerland have been expelled from the country before, such cases are rare.

Authorities in the cantons of Vaud and Geneva say that if a person is born in Switzerland he or she must have accumulated a serious criminal record and pose a high risk of reoffending before being thrown out of the country.

Lawyers for Mehdi said legal steps were being taken to reestablish Mehdi’s right to return.

They plan an appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming that his fundamental rights were violated by sending him to a country he does not know.

Politicians in Bern — particularly from the right-wing Swiss People's Party — have repeatedly called for the expulsion of foreigners with serious criminal records.


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