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Landmark deadline

Deportation now a reality for foreign criminals

Foreigners who commit serious, or multiple, crimes in Switzerland from this weekend face a heightened risk of deportation under the terms of new criminal procedures.

The foreign criminal deportation law will not officially come into force until January 1, 2017 – but it will take into account any crimes committed from October 1, 2016.

From now on, foreigners residing in Switzerland could be deported to their country of origin for a variety of offences, including murder, grievous bodily harm, sexual assaults or serious crime against property.

For a first time offender, the banishment from Switzerland would last between five and 15 years, but could ratchet up to 20 years – or even a life ban - for serial offenders.

However, Swiss voters also approved a clause, inserted by legislators, that allows courts to rescind deportation in certain “hardship cases”.

The deportation law had a rocky and controversial journey onto the statute books. It originated from a people’s initiative approved by voters in 2010. The issue went back to public vote in February of this year to decide whether it should be strictly enforced in its original wording or take on the addition of the hardship clause.

This gives courts the power to weigh up the public interest of deporting a criminal against the hardship that may be inflicted on individuals if they are banished. This clause was inserted mainly for the benefit of the 300,000 people born and raised in Switzerland to immigrant parents but who do not have Swiss citizenship.



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