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Final say

Asylum and secret service reform to go to public votes

Voters are likely to have the final say on two separate parliamentary decisions to boost the powers of the intelligence service and to speed asylum procedures.

An alliance of leftwing politicians and representatives of civil rights groups said they had handed in 67,000 signatures to the Federal Chancellery to force a nationwide vote.

The committee says the reform of a law, which gives intelligence services increased powers to monitor private communications over the internet and telephones and bug privates homes, is an attack on democracy and individual freedom.

“It declares null and void basic constitutional rights and re-creates another data-collection monster outside the framework of a state of law,” declared Fabian Molina, president of the leftwing Young Socialists.

No date set

In another development, the conservative right Swiss People’s Party said it had handed in more than 65,000 signatures against a legal amendment to speed up asylum procedures, allowing the government to set up asylum centres and to grant asylum seekers free legal aid.

“Switzerland must not become even more attractive. Genuine refugees who have to fear for their lives can get asylum in Switzerland. Illegal immigrants looking for a better life have to be rejected. This is our asylum tradition,” a party statement declared on Thursday.

Parliament approved both laws last year, but the decision has been challenged by collecting at least 50,000 signatures within 100 days.

The government is due to set a date for a nationwide ballot on the issues.

Urs Geiser, swissinfo.ch



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