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Swiss Parliament in Bern. Tourism office

Switzerland to deport terrorists even if they risk death

The much-debated motion was passed by senators, despite the fact that it contravenes the Swiss Constitution and the Geneva Convention.

Published: March 20, 2019, 8:19 am

    Bern

    Radical acts require radical measures, according to Swiss senators. This was understood by the Swiss Council of States on Tuesday, March 19, by voting for the expulsion of terrorists to their country of origin, even if they risk torture or the death penalty, reported the Tribune de Genève.

    The vote was marginal, but the motion was finally passed by 22 votes to 18, against the advice of the Minister of Justice, Karin Keller-Sutter. The text specifically concerns persons convicted of terrorist acts who still represent a danger to the security of Switzerland after the execution of their sentence.

    So far, some convicts could not be expelled from the territory because of the principle of deportation to a safe destination. Indeed, according to the Swiss Constitution, “no one can be returned to the territory of a state in which he is at risk of torture or any other cruel and inhuman punishment or treatment”, the Swiss Minister of Justice Pascale Bruderer recalled.

    The left has tried to oppose this text, which contravenes the Swiss Constitution and the Geneva Conventions, to no avail.

    “Switzerland would play the game of executioners in contravention of the principle of non-refoulement,” said Bruderer, an elected socialist. But the independent Thomas Minder noted that “it is about the sovereignty of the country”.

    Other solutions have been put forward in Switzerland. In a project currently under consideration, the Federal Council proposed, for example, to keep under house arrest persons convicted of terrorism who have served their sentences, but who are inexpulsable.

    The Swiss Minister of Justice also mentioned another alternative. Some individuals expelled by the Federal Office of the Police because they pose a security threat, benefit from social assistance while persons inadmissible by a body other than the Federal Office, only have access to emergency aid.

    The minister has proposed that none of the terrorists receive social assistance and that they only receive emergency assistance, “to prevent social assistance from being used to finance terrorism”.

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