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Travel risks Swiss abroad to register and pay kidnapping costs

Swiss law will require hostages to reimburse the costs of freedom

(Keystone)

Starting in November, Swiss living abroad must register their whereabouts and reimburse government costs of coming to their aid if they are kidnapped or taken hostage.

The cabinet decided on Wednesday that the law passed by parliament last November will go into effect on November 1.

Mandatory registration, which the foreign ministry opposed, was a controversial element of the new law. Electronic voting was another element of the legislation meant to encourage participation of Swiss abroad.

In a statement,external link the cabinet said the law “does not introduce any fundamentally new rights or obligations, but brings together in a single piece of legislation the most important provisions governing the more than 756,000 Swiss citizens living abroad”.

It also noted that the cantons would play “a decisive role” in how the law is implemented.

The law followed a highly publicised hostage taking in 2011. The Taliban in Pakistan held a Bern police officer and his companion for eight months.

Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter insisted the Swiss government paid no ransom, and the government has been trying to discourage Swiss from venturing into high-risk areas. It also has tried to hold down costs for consular assistance in emergencies.

About one in ten Swiss lives abroad, roughly equal to the population of canton Vaud, the third-largest of Switzerland’s 26 cantons, according to government figures.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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