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Uncompromising deportation

29.01.2016 – Jürg Müller

The SVP is seeking to apply its deportation initiative to the letter through an implementing initiative. Opponents warn of far-reaching consequences.

The Swiss People’s Party (SVP), deeply mistrusting “federal Berne” and suspecting the popular initiative “in favour of the deportation of foreign criminals” adopted in November 2010 would not be implemented to the letter, announced an implementing initiative just six months after the proposal’s approval. The bill will now be put to the vote on 28 February. The implementing law would be immediately enshrined in the constitution and would be directly applicable. This would restrict Parliament’s room for manoeuvre enormously and also infringe on the principle of the separation of powers, in the view of some experts.

The SVP is adopting an uncompromising position. This is despite the fact that Parliament, under pressure from the implementing initiative, has already passed a law that largely accommodates the wishes of those behind it. Criminal law has been significantly tightened in relation to the deportation of foreign criminals. It is practically identical to the deportation initiative. The only caveat is that Parliament takes account of the principle of proportionality with a hardship clause. This means that a court could refrain from deporting foreign criminals in individual cases if this would result in major personal hardship for the person concerned. The SVP believes that the amendment to the law adopted by Parliament would cement existing “lax deportation practices”, as it indicates on the party’s homepage. The courts would always find a reason to refrain from deportation.

Opponents warn that the adoption of the implementing initiative would also have ramifications for Switzerland’s relationship with the EU because the popular initiative expressly stipulates the precedence of national law over international law. If an EU citizen were deported for a minor offence, for example, the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU would be violated. The adoption of the implementing initiative would therefore have implications extending far beyond criminal law. The initiative also departs from a previously generally recognised practice. Popular initiatives have until now hardly ever been implemented to the letter. Parliament has usually endeavoured to pass an implementing law that takes account of both the core requirements of those behind the initiative as well as other framework conditions – very much in line with the Swiss culture of compromise.

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