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Terror threat Top cop: ‘Compared with abroad, Switzerland’s a paradise’

Fedpol director Nicoletta della Valle wants more staff


Facing record numbers of cases of money-laundering and cybercrime, not to mention threats from jihadists, the Swiss Federal Office of Police (Fedpol) has its hands full. Its director has called for additional means to combat terrorists and suspected extremists.

Last year “reminds us of the dark side of people, the dark side of our world”, said Fedpol director Nicoletta della Valle in the organisation’s recently published annual report.

“Many people are asking themselves what on earth’s going on in the world?” she said in an interview with the SonntagsBlick newspaper, acknowledging that the intelligence services had assessed that the threat level to Switzerland was indeed higher. “But compared with conditions abroad, Switzerland remains a paradise. For example, government ministers can walk around as they wish.”

She said new tools and a legal basis were needed to deal with people who were considered dangerous but who were not the subject of criminal proceedings.

Asked whether the authorities could arrest someone who hadn’t broken any laws, she replied: “In a state that follows the rule of law, you can’t simply lock someone up because you think they’re dangerous. But we’re looking into being able to detain people for at least 24 hours. To be able to temporarily prevent them from leaving the country until other measures are available, for example.”

New measures

Fedpol is currently developing a legal basis for “counter-terrorism measures outside the normal criminal procedure” in the context of the fight against terrorism. These measures include obligations for suspects to present themselves, the blocking of travel documents, perimeter bans, electronic bracelets and 24-hour preventive detention.

Della Valle said Fedpol was overloaded with work despite being provided with 23 additional posts of limited duration (up to 2018) to combat terrorism. At the very least, she wants these posts to be extended.

“No police force in the world has enough resources,” she said. “I have the means that politicians make available to me.”

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