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Domestic law ‘Foreign judges’ initiative rejected by Swiss parliament

A picture of Simonetta Somaruga during the debate in parliament

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said that the initiative was “very black and white” and represented “the very opposite of what defines Switzerland”.

(Keystone)

Both houses of parliament have decided to recommend rejecting a popular initiative aimed at giving Swiss legislation precedence over international law.

The House of Representatives followed the Senate’s lead on Monday and voted 127 to 67 against endorsing the initiative. The decision was made shortly before midnight, after a heated debate that lasted over nine hours.

The people’s initiative, backed by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party will likely come to a national vote later in 2018. If accepted, the initiative would place the status of Swiss national law above that of international treaties and bodies such as the European Court of Human Rights which can currently overturn decisions made in Swiss courts.

+ How to reconcile direct democracy and international law

The government already expressed its opposition to the idea last year. The Swiss People’s Party is the only party in favour of the initiative.

Swiss Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said that the initiative was “very black and white” and represented “the very opposite of what defines Switzerland”. If it was accepted, it would unnecessarily force the country into a restrictive “corset”, she said. The initiative had also been formulated in contradictory terms and did not in fact clarify what it said it would, Sommaruga added.

SRF-RTS/swissinfo.ch/ln

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