Artists launch parody ‘black sheep’ initiative

The controversial initiative to expel foreign criminals was approved by 53% of Swiss voters in 2010 Keystone

All male criminals should be expelled from Switzerland - both Swiss and foreign - according to a new initiative launched by a Basel group denouncing racism by the rightwing Swiss People’s Party. The text has been accepted by the Federal Chancellery.

This content was published on November 18, 2014 - 19:13 with agencies

The initiative “for the expulsion of criminal men”External link, published in the government's official register on Tuesday, closely mimics the controversial People’s Party "black sheep" initiative to automatically expel foreign criminals convicted of certain crimes, which was approved by a majority of Swiss voters on November 28, 2010.

By replacing the initiative word “foreign” with “person of the male sex”, the members of the Freistaat unteres Klein-Basel (F-U-K) group that launched the initiative say they want to highlight the absurdity of the statistics and arguments presented by the People’s Party to stigmatise foreigners. They say it is a fact that 84% of penal violations and 93% of serious violent crime are committed by men.

They add they want to underline “latent racism” in Switzerland and “scandalous mechanisms” used by the rightwing party and to encourage a debate on initiatives that do not respect the rule of law.

Under Swiss direct democracy any citizen has the right to propose new legislation by launching an initiative. Typically these initiatives are proposed by interest groups. Once the group has gathered at least 100,000 signatures in support of the proposal, it may be put to a nationwide vote.

If the Basel group manages to secure 100,000 signatures by May 18, 2016, the authorities will then have to decide whether the initiative is valid and they can proceed to a vote. For the moment the federal Chancellery has simply given a formal go-ahead to start collecting signatures, according to the traditional procedure.

The People’s Party’s “black sheep” initiative, named after an infamous poster campaign depicting three white sheep booting a black sheep out of the country, demands the automatic deportation of convicted foreign criminals regardless of the seriousness of the offence.

The initiative, approved by 52.9% of voters on November 28, 2010,  sparked controversy at home and abroad. Critics argue it could violate humanitarian law and international treaties.

In order to put pressure on the government to enforce the automatic deportation and 2010 vote, the People’s Party launched another initiative at the end of 2012 specifically aimed at speeding up the process. This initiative is currently pending in parliament. 

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