AI urges Swiss to rethink deportation vote

BERN, Switzerland, Nov. 29 (UPI) -- Implementing the "Deportation Initiative" Swiss voters approved would result in human rights violations, Amnesty International said.

The referendum would amend the Swiss constitution to allow the "automatic" and immediate deportation of non-citizens convicted of certain crimes to their countries of origin, the human rights organization said in a release.


Media reports indicated 52.9 percent of the votes Sunday favored the amendment.

Under provisions of the referendum, foreign nationals convicted for criminal offenses such as murder, rape, armed robbery, human and drug trafficking, and welfare fraud, would be stripped of their residence permit and right to remain in the country, Amnesty International said.

"If put into practice, the amendment to the constitution risks violating Switzerland's obligations under international law, in particular the obligation not to return anyone to a country where they would be at risk of torture or other forms of persecution," said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International's Europe and Central Asia deputy program director. "Switzerland cannot, and must not, allow popular and xenophobic initiatives to override its obligations under international law. Switzerland should also grant persons subject to deportation the opportunity to appeal any decision."


The referendum would remove any possibility of appealing the deportation order, which would be made by a regional migration office, AI said. Removing the right to appeal also would put Switzerland in breach of its international obligations, AI said.

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