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Few foreign criminals being sent home

A programme designed to cut costs and ease overcrowding in Swiss prisons by sending foreign criminals home to serve their sentences is not succeeding so far.

Justice Office spokesman Folco Galli confirmed a report on Friday that since 2004 only four foreigners who committed crimes in Switzerland have been sent against their will to serve time in their home countries.

Switzerland is allowed to take such measures as a signatory of a protocol ratified by 34 other states.

About 70 per cent of the 6,000 prisoners in Swiss jails are foreigners, but many of them come from countries that have not signed the agreement, including Italy, Portugal, Turkey, Albania and Kosovo.

The process of sending a criminal back can also take a long time, Galli said, since foreigners can only be sent to jail outside of Switzerland once their residence permits have been revoked. Offenders can take that matter to court, which can take years to hear the case.

To complicate matters, criminals can be forced back against their will but their home countries are not forced to accept them. and agencies

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