The Swiss Federal Supreme Court found two leaders of the Swiss People’s Party guilty of racial discrimination for an advertising campaign featuring two Swiss attacked by knife-wielding immigrants from Kosovo.
On Thursday, the country’s highest court upheld a 2015 judgement of a regional court in Bern that sentenced former right-wing People’s Party leader Martin Baltisser and his deputy Silvia Bär for racial discrimination. The campaign, with a slogan that read “Kosovars are cutting the Swiss apart!” and the true story of two Swiss attacked with knives, were released in the print media during the run-up to the February 9, 2014 vote that sought to restrict immigration from European Union countries. The ad also appeared in 2011 on the party’s website.
The court stated that the ad undermined human dignity and suggested that people from Kosovo would be more violent than other immigrants and hence shouldn’t be allowed into Switzerland. The defence’s argument that the campaign referred specifically to only one incident was rejected by the court. The judges ruled that the publication created a hostile climate for the Kosovar community as a whole.
Baltisser said he was disappointed by the court’s verdict, which he felt infringed on his freedom of expression. However, he said that he would not appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.
The regional court in Bern had given Baltisser and Bär a 45-day suspended sentence and fine of CHF300 and CHF220 per day (for 45 days) respectively.
swissinfo.ch and agencies