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Campaign launched for deportation vote

Justice Minister Widmer-Schlumpf (l) and St Gallen's head of the justice department, Karin Keller-Sutter


The government and cantonal representatives have launched the campaign for a counterproposal to a rightwing initiative to expel criminal foreigners.

Swiss voters will have their say on November 28 on a proposal to automatically deport foreigners convicted of serious crimes. Both government and parliament recommend voters reject it and accept the counterproposal instead.

“Making the fight against crime more efficient is a major concern of the population,” said Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf on behalf of the government at a media conference in Bern on Monday.

“[With this counterproposal] it’s therefore a question of guaranteeing a cantonal practice that is more coherent and rigorous regarding deportations.”

Widmer-Schlumpf was justice minister until becoming finance minister in a cabinet reshuffle last week. She will continue leading the campaign until November 1, when she will hand over to the new justice minister, Simonetta Sommaruga.

The counterproposal offers a more specific list of expulsion crimes than the rightwing Swiss People’s Party’s version. In addition the counterproposal says deportations should respect the Swiss constitution and international law.

It would also take more preventative steps by working to integrate foreigners better into society. “Good integration enables the prevention of crime,” Widmer-Schlumpf said.

The People’s Party launched the initiative in 2007 as a keystone of its electoral campaign of that year. Its use of a controversial poster, showing white sheep booting out a black sheep, caused controversy both in Switzerland and abroad.

Supporters collected more than 211,000 signatures in favour of the move – double the amount needed. and agencies

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