Justice minister Simonetta Sommaruga. Photo: Aurore Belot/AFP
The plan, developed in consultation with the cantons and communes over the course of a year, contains 26 concrete measures to fight extremism, bringing some measures already in place under one single action plan, the government said in a statement.
Five million francs will be invested over five years to support cantonal or communal projects that meet the plan’s aims.
“We must not wait until terrorism hits to take action,” Sommaruga said at a press conference reported by Swiss media.
Collaboration is the most effective way to prevent terror, according to the government.
The action plan therefore asks cantons, towns and communes to work together to share information, advise local authorities and specify the services they can offer.
Specialists in education, social services, youth work and police should be made aware of issues surrounding radicalization and be offered training to help them detect early signs of it.
Wider society also has a part to play in detecting radicalization, feels the government. Those in charge of sports or leisure clubs should receive support and training from higher authorities under the plan.
Teachers – who “play an important role in the development of a personality” – should also receive specialist support and schools should develop teaching materials and projects to enable discussion of radicalization and extremism.
The plan also recommends cantonal institutions work together to help detect radicalization at an early stage and evaluate the threat posed by suspects. Each canton should designate a body to take charge of radicalized individuals and manage their reinsertion into society.
Several important steps have already been taken around the country to help combat extremism. These must be reinforced and supported by the national action plan, said the government.
The canton of Geneva has already launched several initiatives, including a training course for imams to help them better integrate into Swiss society, and a network of advisors in schools to train staff about the first signs of radicalization.
Earlier this year it was revealed that staff at Geneva airport had been taking a course to help them spot the signs of radicalization amongst colleagues.
Back in 2015 teachers in Winterthur were given similar training after five young people in the area left to join Isis.
The city later established a new centre to provide a contact point for the public to report and discuss cases of extremism and violence.
The centre was modelled on a similar institution in Zurich.