One ‘sex click’ almost meant deportation for 33 foreigners

One of the controversial posters supporting the 2010 deportation initiative, which 53% of Swiss voters backed Keystone

Should non-Swiss have to leave the country for sharing illegal video clips on social media? Yes, said the Zurich public prosecutor, citing the rules of the 2010 deportation initiative; no, the Zurich courts overruled, saying this would be “disproportionate”.

This content was published on July 26, 2020 - 16:42
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Last year the Zurich public prosecutor said 33 foreigners had to leave the country for sharing two short clips allegedly involving bestiality in a WhatsApp group chat, the SonntagsZeitung reported on Sunday.

Although there was discussion as to whether the clips were just a stupid laugh or hardcore pornography (the SonntagsZeitung said it wasn’t clear what exactly was happening in them), the public prosecutor decided it was illegal pornography and convicted the 33 people.

According to the 2010 initiative, a conviction for illegal pornography means automatic deportation for those without Swiss citizenship, a quarter of the resident population. Only if this would result in serious hardship for those involved can the courts intervene, citing a “hardship clause”.

The Zurich courts did intervene. “It would have been disproportionate if these people had been expelled from the country basically because of one click,” explained Erich Wenzinger, spokesman for the Zurich chief prosecutor.

Over the top?

Had the 2010 initiative been accepted without the hardship clause – as the initiative’s organisers, the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, wanted – the 33 convicted criminals would automatically have been forced to leave the country.

Even opponents of the hardship clause think deportation for a mouse click might be over the top. “If it’s necessary to adapt the law there, I’m prepared to discuss it,” said People’s Party hardliner Gregor Rutz.

Rutz wanted to see the Zurich authorities focus on burglaries and crime tourism “instead of distracting with pornography cases”.

Public prosecutors in various cantons have recently been criticised, even by those on the left, for being too lenient on foreign criminals. The 33 offenders in this case made up more than a third of the 94 cases in which the Zurich public prosecutor applied the hardship clause last year.


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