The initiative to automatically deport foreigners who commit crimes in Switzerland is dividing the country. But who counts as a foreigner, and is the colour of one’s passport relevant? swissinfo.ch breaks down the statistics.
One particularly controversial aspect of the initiative, which was proposed by the conservative right Swiss People’s Party and which will be decided by voters on February 28, is whether people who have been born and raised in Switzerland but who do not have a Swiss passport count as foreigners. Should these second-generation Swiss be deported – in some cases to countries where they don’t know anyone and might not speak the language?
Based on 2014 figures supplied by the Federal Statistical Office, many offences are committed by so-called criminal tourists and foreigners who have not registered with the authorities. Proportionally, foreigners who are resident in Switzerland and who have registered with the authorities are accused of – and convicted for – around twice as many crimes as the Swiss resident population.
However, does it make sense to classify offenders by the colour of their passport? No, according to André Kuhn, a professor of criminology. For him, the relevant factors are gender, age, socio-economic status and education. Statistically it is men under 30 with little income and a low level of education who are most likely to be convicted.
If nationality is to be considered a factor, Kuhn says it should be for migrants from conflict countries who have been “brutalised” by the experiences of war.