Court finds Swiss immigration authorities cannot order deportation for criminal offences

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Court finds Swiss immigration authorities cannot order deportation for criminal offences

A Swiss court has held that immigration officials are not able to order a person to be deported under Switzerland’s deportation initiative.


Switzerland’s Federal Court held on Wednesday that only courts, rather than administration authorities, are allowed to order a deportation against a foreigner who has committed criminal offences. 

In Switzerland, the courts have the power to order the deportation of foreigners who commit certain criminal offences after a SVP-backed referendum on the issue in 2010, Watson reports

A similar referendum in 2016 which would have had the effect of allowing foreigners to be deported for committing minor criminal offences was rejected at the ballot box. 

The case

The case concerned a Croatian man who had been found guilty of a range of criminal offences. 

The cantonal court in Vaud sentenced the man to 42 months imprisonment but did not order his deportation. 

The offences the man was convicted of are of the type of offences for which an explosion from the country is mandatory. 

According to the Neue Zürcher Zeitung, it appears that the court forgot to order deportation when handing down the sentence. 

The public prosecutor in the case also forgot to apply for it, the NZZ reports. 


After cantonal authorities ordered that the man be deported, the Federal Court intervened on appeal. 

The Federal Court found that under the deportation initiative only the judiciary had the power to order a deportation, rather than cantonal authorities. 

The Federal Court said that when a deportation order is not made by the courts, the immigration authorities “must accept it in every case” even if it was simply forgotten. 

While the directive calls for ‘mandatory’ deportation, this is often avoided on hardship grounds. 

Across Switzerland, deportation orders are avoided due to hardship in 42 percent of cases - with the rate higher in French-speaking Switzerland. 




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