Swiss government backs house arrest for potential terrorists

The Swiss government on Wednesday unveiled new proposals designed to combat terrorism. These include possible house arrest, but only as a "last resort".

Swiss government backs house arrest for potential terrorists
File photo:AFP

One of the proposed measures would see all people deemed a potential terror threat – a group numbering a few dozen people according to Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter – required to report to police at certain times.

Another option would see suspects slapped with a travel ban while also having their passports confiscated.

Also on the table are measures that would see potential terrorists banned from making contact with certain people, while police would also be given powers to track suspects using electronic media.

Read also: Here's what we know about Switzerland's jihadists

As a last resort, people considered a threat could be placed under house arrest. However, this provision could only be applied under very strict conditions and with permission from the courts.

But the government fell short of backing an even tougher measure than house arrest – the so-called “secure housing” option pushed for by security agencies.

This controversial measure closely resembles preventative detention. Its proponents say it would be limited to convicted terrorists who have served prison time in Switzerland and now find themselves free, but who cannot be deported because they are not recognized by any state or because they face persecution in their home country.

Under the international non-refoulement principle, countries cannot return people to nations where they are at serious risk of persecution.

It’s an omission that is likely to disappoint cantonal justice and police departments who have previously called for the measure. Those calls came in the context of a handful of high-profile cases including that of three Iraqi members of an Isis terror cell in the northern city of Schaffhausen who have served out their jail terms but who remain in Switzerland because they face torture or death in Iraq.

But for the Swiss government, the “secure housing” option proposed by security agencies is a legal bridge too far. It argues such detention would contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

The proposed anti-terror measures must now go before the Swiss parliament for discussion.

Read also: Concern as Swiss parliament backs plan to deport terrorists


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