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‘We’re well covered’

Security for WEF is challenging but under control says chief

As head of the Graubünden cantonal police, Walter Schlegel is responsible for security at the World Economic Forum, to be held from January 20 to 23 in Davos. In a Q&A interview published on Sunday in the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, he talked about the challenges.

The situation leading up to this Forum is more difficult than in past years, even in comparison to the 2015 attacks on the satire journal Charlie Hebdo in France, said Schlegel.

“The bombings in Paris last November represent a new sort of threat for WEF, and require new measures,” he said. “For the first time in Europe, terrorists used explosive belts for suicide bombings.”

Confronted with this new scenario, the Swiss police have increased investigative activities and inspections, said Schlegel. These include using specially trained dogs to check for explosives being transported in automobiles, and tightened security on access routes leading to Davos.

According to Schlegel, there is an abstract increased risk of terrorist activity, but no concrete indications of potential events.

A range of security organisations are working together to continually monitor the situation before and during the annual Forum, said Schlegel. These include the Federal Office of Police, the Swiss Intelligence Service, the border police, the local police force, and members of foreign intelligence services.

With all these groups working together, said Schlegel, “we’re well covered.”

In addition, up to 5,000 Army troops are available to perform a range of tasks, including collecting and communicating relevant information. In 2015 around 3,200 members of the Army were deployed. In 2016 they will have more to do than in 2015, said Schlegel.

Besides providing general security, Switzerland is required to provide personal protection for high-raking politicians. In 2015 that amounted to 80 people.

According to Schlegel, it’s important that the World Economic Forum not be allowed to grow any further.

“From a security perspective, we’re at the upper limit.”




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