Swiss Initiative on Expulsion of Foreign Convicts Threatens Democracy

© AP Photo / Petros GiannakourisRefugees and migrants disembark from a ferry.
Refugees and migrants disembark from a ferry. - Sputnik International
The initial proposal of the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) to hold a referendum on the deportation of foreign residents convicted of a crime is not only profoundly unjust but threatens the very basis of the Swiss system of rule of law and democracy, experts told Sputnik Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Switzerland will hold a binding referendum on February 28 on whether convicted foreign residents should face automatic deportation, with the crimes in question ranging from breaking the speed limit to murder.

“The initiative proposal will lead to situations where the expulsion of an alien might and will violate the European Convention on Human Rights as well as the Agreement between Switzerland and the EU concerning free movement of persons,” Andreas Auer, a professor of Public Law at the University of Zurich, told Sputnik.

According to Auer, Switzerland will certainly be condemned in Strasbourg for violating its obligations and the European Union might well take retaliatory measures. Switzerland will be isolated both economically and politically, while the human rights of the expelled foreigners will be violated.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel (L), British Prime Minister David Cameron (C) and French President Francois Hollande (R) take part in a meeting as part of a European Union leaders summit in Brussels on October 15, 2015. - Sputnik International
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The main issue that the expert raised is the negative international and national implications that the potential adoption of this law could have.

“If as it goes the courts are required to expel any foreign person who has been convicted of certain crimes, without taking into consideration the personal, professional and family situation of the convicted person, the rule of law has gone,” he stressed.

Similarly, Stephane Garelli, who is a professor of world competitiveness at the IMD Business School at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, explains that should the law be adopted, a hypothetical scenario of Switzerland’s possible withdrawal from the Convention of Human Rights would be absurd, especially because Switzerland has a very prominent international image in relation to human rights, as well as being home to the Red Cross. Such a result could cause public upheaval.

Garelli expressed the view that the vast the majority of the Swiss population considers the initiative unacceptable.

“My feeling is that it’s going to be a rejection. Actually, it’s one of the very few times where almost every party except one is against it”, Garelli said.

“I think so far already we have one of the largest turnouts, because people can vote in advance, and a lot of people are already voting which means there is a lot of concern about this initiative” the expert added.

In turning to the contested issue of “Secundos” or Swiss-born children of immigrants who would also fall under this proposed law, Auer asserted that, “this is a scandal because young persons who have never been in the home country of their parents, living in Switzerland all their life, may be expelled for some minor misdemeanours without appeal.” Garelli emphasized that this point is likely to cause the strongest opposition among the general public. “These Swiss children should have the possibility to be Swiss if they wish,” Garelli stressed.

Finally, when looking at the overall EU anti-migration tendencies that have been more vividly changing the political landscape, Stephane Garelli reiterated, “I suspect that if the same system of initiative or referendum would exist in other countries we would have many such rotations everywhere. We would have them in England, we would have them in the Netherlands, and we even would have them in Denmark and Sweden now.”

According to a recent SBC Poll conducted by the Gfs Institute involving more than 1,400 citizens from Switzerland, 49 percent of those surveyed were against the initiative to deport convicted foreigners, while 46 said they would support the proposal.

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