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Government calls for tighter national security

Jean-Luc Vez, director of the federal police office, says an overhaul of the system is a must Keystone

The Swiss government has called for a radical overhaul of the country's internal security system in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States.

Jean-Luc Vez, Switzerland’s federal police chief, called on Friday for greater centralisation of the country’s cantonal policing system.

“The overhaul of our police system is a must,” Vez said at a press conference in Bern.

But he stopped short of demanding the creation of a federal security network similar to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the US.

Vez’s comments came as the government announced that the period of consultation prior to a complete review of the country’s internal security apparatus would be last until 2003.

In an interim report published on Friday, the government said a review of aviation security was overdue.

“When terrorists take over an aircraft, they are attacking the state as a whole and not just the airline itself,” Vez said.

The interim report also calls for a strengthening of security at embassy compounds in Switzerland.

Proposal for federal police force

As well as an increase in the number of police recruits at a cantonal level, the report calls for the establishment of a federal police force to be made up of “several hundred people”.

But Vez insisted a putative national police force would never be a replacement for Switzerland’s network of cantonal police stations and would not be allowed to become an organisation staffed by thousands.

“Such a solution would not only be very costly,” Vez said, “but it would also be politically unacceptable.”

Another issue currently under review by the authorities is that of security at Switzerland’s borders.

The report envisages the creation of a new 200-strong team of frontier guards to police international trains departing from and arriving in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR