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Cabinet aims to restrict private security firms

The Swiss government has launched a move to ban mercenary firms from operating in Switzerland.

In a proposal that has been submitted to parliament for consultation, the government backed tougher rules for private security companies in an effort to safeguard Switzerland’s image as a neutral nation.

The measures would require private security companies to report their activities to Swiss authorities, and abide by a 2010 code of conduct on respecting human rights and the rule of law in conflict zones.

Firms would be unable to recruit, train or supply security staff for direct participation in armed conflicts. However they could supply personnel for non-hostile action such as translation or logistical support, or as bodyguards and security staff.  Arms could only be carried for protection jobs and for defensive purposes.

The government estimates some 20 private security companies currently operate in Switzerland. Only contractors taking part directly in hostilities are considered mercenaries in the cabinet’s proposal.

The bill submitted to parliament on Wednesday includes holding companies that control private security firms abroad.

Breaching the law would be punishable by up to three years in jail.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR