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Too many laws? Overburdened legal system means criminals being let off

An empty pair of handcuffs

There aren’t enough staff to deal with the number of cases, say prosecutors


Serious offenders sometimes escape punishment in Switzerland because the justice system is overloaded with cases and bureaucracy, according to the SonntagsZeitung, citing public prosecutors. 

Last year, 427,500 prosecution notices were issued, up from 354,175 in 2012, the report saidexternal link. Over the same period, the number of court cases also rose from 8,205 to 10,059. The increases were particularly high – over 50% – in cantons Geneva, Schaffhausen and Zug. 

“The list of pending cases is getting longer and longer,” said Fabien Gasser, president of the Swiss Prosecutors’ Conferenceexternal link. “There aren’t enough staff to deal with the high number of cases.” 

The numbers are so high that there’s barely enough time to process the serious crimes, according to Daniel Burri, the senior public prosecutor for Lucerne. He says the fight against drugs is suffering, as well as that against cybercrime and human trafficking. 

Burri’s equivalent in Solothurn, Hansjürg Brodbeck, says the pressure is high “and mistakes can’t be ruled out”. 

Experts blame an increase in the number of laws, according to the SonntagsZeitung. The Federal Council is currently revising the criminal procedure law, but the Swiss Prosecutors’ Conference expects the workload to get even heavier.

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