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Security measures Is the Swiss parliament vulnerable to terrorism?

Parliament in Bern

Anyone can walk right up to the federal parliament building in Bern

(Keystone)

The federal parliament in Bern should be better protected, says the Federal Office of Police (Fedpol). There are plans for the visitors’ side entrance to be renovated next summer, and the government is also considering measures for the front of the building, such as retractable bollards. 

Fedpol analyses the situation continuously and makes recommendations to the parliamentary administration or to parliament itself, said spokeswoman Cathy Maret, confirming a report on Swiss public radio, SRF. 

Terror threat Top cop: ‘Compared with abroad, Switzerland’s a paradise’

Facing record numbers of cases of money-laundering and cybercrime, not to mention threats from jihadists, Fedpol has its hands full.

“On the one hand, we know that the threat of terrorism is increasing across Europe – that’s what our intelligence services tell us. On the other hand, we’re seeing more and more visits from foreign heads of state, and in those situations security is important,” she said. 

Maret added that foreign state guests were often amazed at how close people could get to parliament. For many visiting dignitaries, this attests to the high levels of security in Switzerland and its capital. 

Bollards? 

In addition, increasing numbers of visitors want to see parliament from the inside. Any renovation project therefore has to balance security and openness. 

If the parliamentary administration gives the green light, the visitors’ entrance will be redesigned next summer for around CHF5 million ($5.1 million). After the renovation, visitors will be checked immediately after entering the building or, if necessary, even before entering. What’s more, the visitors’ area will be bigger and better protected. 

The government is also considering the security at the front of the building, which overlooks parliament square. 

“I’m thinking, for example, of retractable bollards that can be used when the security situation demands it,” parliamentary security officer Andreas Wortmann told SRF. 

Maret declined to say which security measures Fedpol had proposed.

SDA-ATS/ts

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