Switzerland: Dangerous “Yes” vote gives police sweeping powers to target people including children without charge or trial

Responding to a “yes” vote in a referendum in Switzerland to give the Federal Police far-reaching powers in the fight against so-called “potential terrorist offenders” Amnesty International Switzerland’s Campaign Director, Patrick Walder said:

“Whilst the desire among Swiss voters to prevent acts of terrorism is understandable, these new measures are not the answer. They provide the police with sweeping and mostly unchecked powers to impose harsh sanctions against so-called ‘potential terrorist offenders’ and can also be used to target legitimate political protest.

These new measures provide the police with mostly unchecked powers to impose harsh sanctions against so-called 'potential terrorist offenders' and can also be used to target legitimate political protest.

Amnesty International Switzerland’s Campaign Director, Patrick Walder

“The law, which will disproportionately affect already discriminated-against groups, introduces a vaguely worded definition of terrorism that means anyone deemed by the authorities to be ‘spreading fear’ with political intentions could be targeted, even if they have not made any threat of violence or committed any criminal offence.

Even children as young as 12 are at risk of being stigmatised and subjected to coercive measures by the police.

Amnesty International

“Those wrongly suspected will have to prove that they will not be dangerous in the future and even children as young as 12 are at risk of being stigmatised and subjected to coercive measures by the police.​

“We will vigilantly monitor the implementation of the law and hold the government to account for human rights violations committed in its application.”

Background

Under the new Federal Law on Police Measures to Combat Terrorism (PMT), the police – mostly without prior judicial control and due process guarantees – will be able to target people solely on the basis of the assumption that they could constitute a danger in the future and impose drastic control orders on them.

The police will be permitted to use foot shackles, no-contact orders, zone bans and even preventive house arrest against persons who have not committed a crime or who are not suspected of preparing to commit a crime. Except for house arrest, the Federal Police can order these measures on its own authority and without judicial scrutiny. The measures can even be taken against 12-year-old children, except for house arrest, which can be applied to 15-year-olds. 

More information: www.nein-polizeigesetz.ch (German) www.non-mesurespolicieres.ch (French)

To arrange an interview contact [email protected]or Stefan Simanowitz [email protected]  0044 (0) 20 7413 5566 (English)