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Concern as Swiss parliament backs plan to deport terrorists

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Concern as Swiss parliament backs plan to deport terrorists
The Swiss government had recommended that the parliament reject a motion to deport terrorists to countries where they faced persecution. File photo: AFP
13:12 CET+01:00
Amnesty International has criticized the Swiss parliament after it voted in favour of a motion to deport convicted terrorists even in cases where they face torture or death.

The human rights organization said in a statement that Switzerland faced violating international law with the proposal.

Under the international non-refoulement principle, countries cannot return refugees to countries where they are at serious risk of persecution.

The Swiss constitution also states: “No person may be deported to a state in which they face the threat of torture or any other form of cruel or inhumane treatment or punishment.”

However, in a tight vote, the Swiss senate this week voted in favour of a controversial motion that would allow convicted members of terrorist groups like so-called Islamic State (ISIS or IS) to be deported even in cases where they face persecution in their home country.

That vote came after the lower house of the Swiss parliament also backed the proposal.

The decision was sending a “very negative signal” to the rest of the world, Amnesty International said in its statement.

The Swiss government had previously recommended that the parliament reject the motion (here in German) put forward by Christian Democrat (SVP) politician Fabio Regazzi.

Legislation to be drawn up

The 2016 motion came in response to a case in which several Iraqi citizens were convicted of planning a terrorist attack in Switzerland but could not be deported after completing their prison terms as they faced torture or even death sentences.

In his original motion, Regazzi referred to an article in the 1951 Geneva Convention which states that refugees who present a danger to the country where they reside, or who have been found guilty of a serious crimes, should not be protected by the non-refoulement principle.

But the Swiss government stated that the clause in the Swiss constitution banning the deportation of people to countries where they faced danger took precedence.

During a debate on the motion in the lower house last year, critics described it as “populist” and as an example of “hysteria”.

However, both the senate and the lower house have now defied the government.

The Swiss government now faces the difficult task of attempting to draw up draft legislation that ensures the country meets its obligation under international law while also meeting the demands of the parliament.

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