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Half of foreign criminals in Switzerland handed deportation orders under new rules

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Half of foreign criminals in Switzerland handed deportation orders under new rules
The controversial campaign poster from the 2010 initiative calling for foreign criminals to be automatically deported from Switzerland. Photo: AFP
10:13 CEST+02:00
A total of 54 percent of the 1,210 criminals without Swiss passports convicted of a crime in Switzerland in 2017 were handed a deportation order, new figures from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) show.

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It is the first time that official statistics on a new Swiss law allowing for judges to deport foreign criminals have been made available.

The law, adopted in 2016, came 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.

Read also: How Switzerland's direct democracy system works

Under the law, first-time foreign offenders who commit serious crimes can be expelled for a period of five to 15 years. For serial offenders, that period can extend to 20 years or even a life-time ban.

The statistics released on Monday show that only 10 percent of the expulsion orders handed down in 2017 concerned people with (longer-term) B and C resident permits. The vast majority were handed down to people with temporary residence permits, asylum seekers, tourists, or people in the country illegally.

In cases where foreigners were sentenced to prison, 80 percent also received a deportation order. The figure was 90 percent for prison terms of six months or more but just 17 percent for prison sentences of less than six months.

Read also:  Tourists prevent forced deportation of man on Swiss holiday flight 

The original wording of the popular initiative in 2010 would have allowed for the automatic expulsion of foreign offenders from Switzerland. But the proposal was watered down by lawmakers who argued the initiative contravened international human rights treaties.

This watering down included the introduction of a “hardship” clause to protect the hundreds of thousands of second-generation immigrants who were born and brought up in Switzerland but do not hold Swiss passports.

The new FSO figures also show a 5 percent decline in overall criminal convictions for adults in 2017 to 105,000.

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