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Public to vote on foreign criminal deportations

Swiss voters will have the chance to decide in a nationwide vote on two proposals for expelling foreign criminals.

This content was published on June 2, 2010 - 19:16

An initiative brought by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party to automatically expel any foreign criminal, including those convicted of cheating welfare payments, was declared valid in a vote in the House of Representatives by 118 votes to 69.

The Socialists and the Greens had wanted the initiative to be declared “inadmissible”.

Meanwhile a counterproposal put forward by the Senate which aims to limit expulsions to felonies was narrowly passed by 94 votes to 86 with 11 abstentions after a six-hour debate. Proponents say this proposal respects international law.

If foreigners commit a crime, under current law they can be deported. The People’s Party’s deportation initiative wants to extend this and make optional deportation obligatory. Supporters collected 211,000 signatures for their initiative, which came in for international criticism over a controversial poster showing white sheep kicking out a black sheep.

Justice Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf noted that the People’s Party initiative posed judicial problems at international and national level and it did not respect conventions on human rights and the free movement of people. She added however that a vote on the issue could lead to a beneficial debate on the issue.

Supporters of the initiative said it demonstrated a real unease about foreign criminals that existed among the population.

Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have recommended that the People’s Party initiative is rejected and the counterproposal is accepted.

The dossier now goes back to the Senate for further review.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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