Enforcement initiative breaks with fundamental principles of democracy

Bern, 22.12.2015 - The popular initiative ‘on the enforcement of the expulsion of foreign criminals (the enforcement initiative)’ bypasses the legislator and restricts the powers of the courts. It therefore breaks with the principles of democracy and calls the constitutional state into question. Its provisions conflict with human rights and with the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) with the EU. If accepted, it would create further uncertainty over Switzerland’s bilateral relations with its most important trade partner. The Federal Council and Parliament therefore reject the enforcement initiative.

The Swiss people and cantons will vote on the enforcement initiative on 28 February 2016. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Simonetta Sommaruga, head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, today outlined the Federal Council's position. The Federal Council and Parliament recommend rejecting the initiative.

The enforcement initiative disregards the proven procedures of democracy. The Federal Constitution states that it is Parliament's task to implement a popular initiative approved by the Swiss people and cantons through amendments to legislation. Following the adoption of the expulsion initiative at the end of 2010, Parliament has since fulfilled this duty and has tightened legislation. Instead of waiting for these laws and, if need be, calling for a referendum, the initiative's authors opted to launch a new popular initiative before Parliament could even begin its legislative work.

Law on the expulsion of foreign criminals already tightened

The enforcement initiative's authors are seeking to impose their interpretation of how the expulsion initiative should be implemented. By calling for even stricter rules on expulsion, the enforcement initiative goes beyond the former initiative. Parliament has already completed its work to implement the expulsion initiative. The legislation on the expulsion of foreign criminals has been toughened up, and provides for mandatory expulsion for serious offences and for crimes of violence and sexual violence.

The new laws, however, allow the courts to take account of hardship cases. This option allows the new provisions to comply more fully with the European Convention on Human Rights and the fundamental principles of our Federal Constitution.

Greater strain on EU relations

The enforcement initiative is not only contrary to the principle of the rule of law laid down in the Federal Constitution but also contravenes international human rights guarantees and the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons with the EU. Adoption of the initiative would create additional uncertainty in bilateral relations between Switzerland and the EU and place a strain on the ongoing negotiations on the implementation of the immigration article (Art. 121a Federal Constitution) adopted by the Swiss people and cantons on 9 February 2014. Such legal uncertainty, which could jeopardise the bilateral approach, would be damaging for Switzerland's economy and interests.

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