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Criminal justice


Swiss-born Nigerian faces deportation


Zurich’s airport prison, which handles pretrial detention, corrections and detention pending deportation ((KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler))

Zurich’s airport prison, which handles pretrial detention, corrections and detention pending deportation

((KEYSTONE/Christian Beutler))

A 28-year-old man will likely be deported from Switzerland to Nigeria – despite the fact that he barely speaks English and has never been to the African country. Authorities say it is his own fault because he has committed so many crimes. 

Swiss law dictates that people without a Swiss passport can be deported for up to 15 years if they commit a serious crime, or two lesser crimes within a decade. Earlier this year, Swiss voters rejected a controversial initiative to automatically deport foreigners who commit certain crimes. 

Born in Switzerland, the man with Nigerian citizenship has been getting into trouble regularly since the age of 14. After several instances of juvenile delinquency, convictions for criminal damage, assault, threats and sexual assault followed. Most recently, he was sentenced to four years in prison for repeatedly stabbing somebody in a fight. 

Last year, canton Zurich’s migration office ruled that the man should leave the country immediately after serving his sentence. Zurich’s cantonal administrative court has confirmed the withdrawal of his residence permit, though the judgement is not yet final. 

The court acknowledged that leaving Switzerland for an essentially foreign country would be a hardship, but maintained that he was young enough to learn a new language and build a new life for himself in Nigeria. 

Ultimately, Swiss security interests prevailed, stated the court, pointing out that the Nigerian citizen had been given plenty of second chances. 

About 25% of people living in Switzerland do not have Swiss citizenship, though some 300,000 were born in the country to foreign parents. Unlike countries such as the United States, being born on Swiss soil does not grant a person the right to Swiss citizenship.

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