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Parliamentary debate


Paedophile initiative campaigners reject soft laws


The organisers of a successful initiative to ban convicted paedophiles from working with children for life are unhappy with the Swiss cabinet’s suggestions for its implementation. They accuse the cabinet of putting the interests of convicted criminals above the protection of children. 

Almost two-thirds of voters approved the initiative in May 2014 and parliament and relevant parties are currently discussing how to put it into force. 

The cabinet had originally floated two possible solutions, one of which included exemptions to lifelong bans of working with children if this was neither necessary nor reasonable. This was strongly rejected by most parties on the political right. 

On Friday, the cabinet suggested in its bill to parliament that in “particularly light cases” courts could grant exemptions to lifelong bans. Such cases, it said, could include affairs between a teenage girl and her only slightly older boyfriend. Exchanging self-filmed sex videos among one’s peers could also fall into this category, in addition to exhibitionism and sexual harassment. 

Criticism was unsurprising. A cross-party committee backing the initiative complained that the government was refusing to implement the initiative “in a consistent manner”, given its desire to include a number of exemptions. 

The committee also rejected the government’s suggestion that the lifelong ban could be re-examined after ten years in prison. This, it said, did not reflect the will of the initiative or the people. 

A lifelong ban corresponded to the principle of proportionality, the committee said, adding that it was not a punishment but a preventive measure. What’s more, the ban only applied to jobs or activities with young children – all other jobs were unaffected. 

The cross-party committee is now calling on parliament to strike the exception clause.

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