Supporters of the re-introduction of the death penalty in Switzerland launched a people’s initiative in Bern on Tuesday.
They have to collect 100,000 signatures by February 24, 2012 to force a nationwide vote on the issue. Switzerland abolished capital punishment in 1942.
The text calls for the Swiss Constitution to be modified to reintroduce the death penalty for those committing a murder or responsible for a death resulting from sexual abuse of children, sexual violence or rape.
The initiative committee says the death penalty is “fair and logical” for deaths resulting from sexual violence. Mourning is only possible after the killer has been executed, it adds.
According to Marcel Graf, one of the main people behind the initiative, the committee members do not belong to a political party or movement but are relatives of a victim.
The text has been officially validated by the Federal Chancellery. Parliament and the cabinet will only comment on the initiative at the end of the signature process. They may invalidate the text if they believe it violates international law.
In 1985 a group launched a similar initiative for the death penalty against drug dealers but failed to get enough signatures to be accepted.
Two-thirds of United Nations member states have already abolished, or are in the process of abolishing, capital punishment. Another 25 countries continued executions in 2009, of which 95 per cent took place in China, Iran, the United States, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
According to Amnesty International, at least 2,390 executions were carried out in 2008 in 25 countries. But the actual number is believed to be much higher.