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Tougher law against hooligans passed

Cases of hooliganism have become more frequent in recent years in Switzerland Keystone Archive

The Swiss parliament has given the go-ahead to revised federal anti-hooliganism legislation ahead of the 2008 European football championships.

This content was published on March 9, 2006 - 12:25

But the tougher measures will not remain in force beyond 2009, as both houses of parliament fear some of them may be unconstitutional.

On Thursday the larger of the two chambers - the House of Representatives - resolved its final differences with the Senate by agreeing to put a 2009 time limit on the tougher regulations.

The Swiss Football League said on Tuesday it was disappointed by the limitation, arguing that the Senate had not taken into the account that there were "serious problems".

The League commented that in its campaign against violence, it had wanted a timeless framework.

The planned measures include a national database of hooligans and travel restrictions for known troublemakers.

Increased powers

They outline preventive detention as well as increased powers for police and the customs authorities to confiscate violence-inciting propaganda material.

According to the government, similar steps in other countries have proven successful and should boost internal security.

On Tuesday, the senators did not deny there was a need to counter hooliganism with Euro 2008 looming, nor did they contest the type of measures proposed.

Violence among extremist fans and other troublemakers in Switzerland has been on the rise over the past few years.

As a result, the Swiss football and ice hockey authorities introduced hefty fines and other penalties for clubs whose supporters misbehave.

But the senators were concerned whether the federal authorities were constitutionally allowed to take over police duties from the cantons.

Objections

When the draft was approved in the House of Representatives in December similar objections were raised. Parliamentarians said then that the federal authorities had no right to interfere in cantonal police matters, and that current regulations were sufficient.

Some senators also felt issues such as whether anyone but the cantons could decide to ban someone from a stadium or order their detention needed to be clarified.

The government has bowed to the concerns expressed over the legislation's constitutionality, and proposed limiting it until 2009.

With this modification, the Senate was prepared to accept the proposed revision.

"Given the restrictions placed on it, and even if its constitutionality might be questioned, this law deserves to be accepted ahead of Euro 2008 and the world ice hockey championships in 2009," said the centre-right Christian Democrat Simon Epiney.

The Senate accepted the limited legislation without opposition, but also voted in favour of a motion calling on the government to find a way of extending the special measures beyond 2009.

The justice minister, Christoph Blocher, has already promised that will be the case, either via an inter-cantonal accord or by a constitutional change.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Switzerland will co-host the 2008 European football championships with Austria.

Euro 2008 will cost the Swiss SFr178 million, with slightly less than half paid for by the state.

Most of the costs are security related. Over the past few years, Switzerland has seen acts of hooliganism committed during football or ice hockey games.

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