Bern backs closing Ticino borders at night

Six out of 16 secondary border crossings on the Swiss-Italian border could be closed at night to allow border guards to spend more time chasing criminals, under a proposal made by the federal government.

Bern backs closing Ticino borders at night
Photo: Swiss Customs Administration

The government has asked civil servants to examine the feasibility of nighttime closures of the six small crossings into the canton of Ticino, while seeking dialogue with cantonal officials and Italian authorities over ways to reduce cross-border crime.

“The objective is to implement appropriate measures to significantly increase security in Ticino,” the seven-person cabinet said in a statement issued on Thursday.

A federal MP from Ticino, Roberta Pantani of the Ticino League (Lega) party, launched an initiative in March 2014 calling on Bern to close all the secondary crossings on the Italian border.

Pantani argued that border guards only patrol three crossings 24 hours a day, leaving more than 20 border posts without surveillance during the night, allowing criminals from Italy to come and go without hindrance.

By closing crossings at night, border guards could focus their efforts on stopping cross-border smuggling, she said.

The federal government previously recognized the problems posed by criminals passing across the border, as well as an illegal migration problem.

But it noted that the cantons are primarily responsible for security and maintaining public order.

A complete closure of borders with Italy is not possible because Switzerland has signed the Schengen agreement, which allows the free movement of persons among 29 European nations.

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