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Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals

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Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
File photo: Christoph G
10:11 CEST+02:00
Switzerland will be able to expel foreign nationals guilty of serious crimes including murder and rape under provisions set out by the seven-member federal government this week.

The new law, to be adopted on October 1st, comes after the public voted to accept a popular initiative on the subject – proposed by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP) – back in 2010.

Implementing the initiative requires 11 changes to federal law surrounding the rights of foreigners and the right to asylum.

On Wednesday the government sent its proposal on these changes to parliament for discussion, it said in a statement.

Expulsion from Switzerland will apply to foreigners who have committed serious crimes warranting at least a three-year prison sentence, including murder, rape, serious sexual assault, violent acts, armed robbery, drug trafficking and people trafficking, as well as abuse of the Swiss social security system.

Under the wording of the 2010 initiative, foreigners who commit such crimes can be expelled and banned from returning to the country for between five and 15 years.

However the government has deemed that judges should have the power to make exceptions, if the expulsion puts the foreigner in a dangerous situation or if a reason for the person to stay outweighs the public interest for expelling them, said news agencies.

Judges should also consider the special case of 'secondos', those born in Switzerland but without Swiss citizenship.

The new measures, due to become law in 2017, will only apply to foreigners who have committed such offences after October 1st 2016.

Cantonal laws must also be amended, said the government.

Earlier this year voters rejected a second SVP-led initiative to expel foreigners for even minor crimes.

The anti-immigration SVP, which had previously accused the government of watering down its 2010 proposal, led a virulent campaign involving heavily criticized posters.

If approved, the 2016 initiative would have dramatically increased the number of offences that foreign nationals could be kicked out of the country for.

It would also have removed a judge's right to make exceptions.

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