Swiss voters have recently been embroiled in a battle to vote on whether to expel foreign criminals for committing crimes. The recent vote came in favour of foreigners living in the country, as more than 58.9% of voters rejected the proposal to deport foreign criminals.
The vote comes at a crucial time when many European countries are taking a tougher view on migrants arriving from the Middle East.
“Today was important for Switzerland because the majority of voters said that national law shouldn’t supersede human rights,” said Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga.
Justice Minister Simonetta had long argued that the law was inhumane, wouldn’t improve public safety, and went against international treaties.
“The majority of the voters came out in favour of the foreigners in our country,” she said.
The referendum, which was originally organized by the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party, came after the influx of immigrants arriving to Europe from the Middle East.
Rising fear of immigrants committing sexual assault crimes such as those in Cologne Germany prompted the vote.
A quarter of Switzerland’s 8.2 million inhabitants aren’t Swiss citizens, opponents of the vote argued that if the law was passed people born to foreign parents in Switzerland risk being deported to countries they have never lived in.
Foreigners comprise a huge percentage of the Swiss population; there are also many foreigners from European Union states like Italy, Germany and thousands from the Balkans and Africa.
If the proposed law was passed, foreigners’ accused of crimes would be automatically deported after completing their prison sentences without the right to appeal.
The outcome of the vote was a serious blow in the head for the Swiss People’s Party, which has longed campaigned for the planned law to go ahead.
The Swiss government also opposed the proposal citing serious breaches in the fundamental rules of democracy, the government, parliament and other major political parties all opposed the proposed law.
Others not in favour also included a number of celebrities and more than 50,000 people who signed a petition against the proposal.
Six years ago more than half of Swiss voters backed a rule to automatically expel foreign criminals convicted of violent or sexual crimes, nevertheless the Swiss People’s Party accused the Swiss parliament of not immediately changing the proposed plan into law which led to the recent referendum.
If such a law was immediately ratified it would have dramatically increased the number of offences that could get foreigners expelled for committing minor crimes that are usually punishable with short prison sentences or fines.
It would have also removed a judge’s right to refrain from deporting an individual, and in such a case it would have caused foreigners serious personal hardship.