Stricter border controls and better integration into Swiss society may be the key to fighting crime committed by foreigners living in Switzerland, according to a new report, which shows that asylum seekers are up to ten times more likely to commit a crime than Swiss nationals.
The report, published by a government working group set up to look into crime caused by non-Swiss residing in the country, reveals that the percentage of convicted criminals among Swiss nationals stands at 0.8 per cent, compared to 7.8 per cent among asylum seekers. Crime among male asylum seekers under 30 years of age is particularly high.
Asylum seekers are more likely to commit crimes within the first two years of arriving in Switzerland, says the report.
The working group urges Swiss authorities to impose rigorous border controls on asylum seekers entering the country and to identify those with a criminal past from the outset. Employment should be provided as soon after their arrival in Switzerland as possible, and more general measures should be taken to integrate them into society.
Likewise, centres for asylum seekers should be under 24-hour surveillance and a tighter check should be kept on the movements of asylum seekers with a history of criminal activity. This would prevent not only crimes from taking place in the first place, but would also make Swiss residents feel safer, says the report.
Swiss authorities should work more closely both with one another and also with their counterparts abroad to fight what the report calls 'criminal tourism'. Switzerland should also become a signatory of the European Convention for the transfer of persons convicted of crime in their country of origin.
The working group was set up in 1999 in response to fears raised among the Swiss population after the murder of a teacher in St Gallen. It consists of representatives of various federal offices and cantons.
swissinfo with agencies