Foreign criminal expulsion law set for October

After an emotional national debate, the second ‘implementation’ initiative for deporting foreign criminals was rejected by 58.9% of voters on February 28 Keystone

Days after voters rejected a hardline initiative to eject foreign criminals, the government has announced that an earlier, watered down, version of the same law will come into force as of October 1. 

This content was published on March 4, 2016 - 13:43 with agencies

The new law was expected to be put into place this year following a successful 2010 vote of the original expulsion initiative from the conservative right Swiss People’s Party. On Friday, the cabinet set a date for its implementation. 

As of October 1, 2016, foreigners who commit serious crimes could be sent back to the country of their origin. But parliament added a clause to the initiative that gives judges the discretion not to deport in ‘hardship’ cases.

Under this interpretation of the initiative, a foreign criminal would not necessarily be deported if they had never lived in their ‘home’ country. This could potentially give succor to so-called Secondos who were born and have lived all their lives in Switzerland, but have only taken the citizenship of their parents’ home country. 

Sunday’s unsuccessful follow-up initiative – also launched by the People’s Party – sought to remove the hardship clause and implement the 2010 initiative to the letter. This second ‘implementation’ initiative was rejected by 58.9% of voters. 

All this means that parliament’s revised version of the original initiative – approved in March of last year – can now go into the statute books. But the government warned that it would be implemented in a staggered approach as half of the country’s cantons would need to make revisions to police, migration offices and court procedures. 

Some of these revisions would take until the end of the year to complete, the government stated. In addition, the process of collating criminal data will also have to be updated.

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