House against detention centres for criminal asylum seekers

The House of Representatives has thrown out proposals to set up special camps for criminal asylum seekers. The government said such a measure would contravene international law.

This content was published on September 27, 2000 - 16:10

An overwhelming majority rejected two proposals aimed at detaining asylum seekers who have committed a crime or who refuse to cooperate with the authorities.

Most speakers said such a measure would not be compatible with the European Human Rights Convention. They also said no other country in western Europe took such measures.

The justice minister, Ruth Metzler, told the House on Wednesday that the government was against the proposal for legal, political and practical reasons.

Metzler said current laws were sufficient to punish criminal asylum seekers.

However, a sizeable minority in the House, mainly from the right-wing People's Party and the Radical Party, voted for the proposal. They said increased efforts were needed to crack down on criminal asylum-seekers.

In March, the Senate voted in favour of the proposal and called on the government to put forward plans for detention centres. The House's decision to turn it down means the plan goes back to the Senate for further debate.

Six years ago, Switzerland abolished a law which had allowed the authorities to intern criminal foreigners. Under an amended law, they can be detained before being expelled.

swissinfo with agencies

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