Vote on the expulsion initiative

The spoken word is imperative
Berne. Statement by Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga, 28 November 2010, Federal Palace Media Centre, Berne

Ladies and gentlemen,

The people and the cantons have today adopted the popular initiative on the expulsion of foreign criminals. In future foreign nationals will automatically lose their right of residence if they commit one of the criminal offences named in the text of the initiative.

The majority of voters have sent a clear signal that they consider foreign criminality to be a serious problem.

I respect the will of the people and I will set to work on the task confided in me today.

Even ahead of the vote, the Federal Council indicated that the adoption of the initiative would raise a number of questions with regard to its implementation. It is now the task of parliament to draft a list defining precisely which offences will result in expulsion. Furthermore, it is a matter of minimising or, if possible, resolving conflicts with the constitution and international law. I will personally seek to ensure that we achieve a solution that is compatible with the constitution and with international law.

Before Christmas I will set up a working group composed of representatives of the initiative committee and the relevant federal and cantonal authorities. This working group will examine the open questions and submit a proposal to me that I can take to the Federal Council outlining how the initiative can be implemented. Ultimately, however, it will, as I said, fall to parliament to decide how the initiative should be implemented in the form of a federal act.

I will closely involve the sponsors of the initiative in work on its implementation. I also expect from them that they keep their word and honour the numerous assurances they made in the run up to the vote: namely, that a sense of proportion should be applied in implementing the initiative and that minor offences, for example, do not result in expulsion. I am also counting on the organisers of the initiative to contribute towards achieving a solution that respects our constitution, our legal traditions and the agreements that we have concluded with other states.

Today’s outcome reflects a feeling of insecurity and anxiety amongst the population. I take these issues seriously. As head of the Department of Justice and Police, I consider it my task, together with the cantons, to ensure that the population of our country can feel safe and secure.

Other measures are needed alongside repressive measures in order to achieve this, and these include a credible integration policy. The legal basis to do so already exists in the Foreign Nationals Act.

Ladies and gentlemen, dear fellow citizens, it is important for me to stress that the vast majority of foreign nationals living in Switzerland are well integrated. Foreign nationals make a significant contribution to economic, social and cultural life in our country. In view of the heated debates during this campaign, I think that is something we should not forget.

Thank you.

Last modification 28.11.2010

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