Parliament takes next step for anti-terror measures

Anti-terror measures at a Basel Christmas market in 2018 © Keystone / Georgios Kefalas

The House of Representatives has approved new anti-terrorism legislation aimed at preventing extremist violence. But it didn’t approve preventive detention of potential terror offenders.

This content was published on June 19, 2020 minutes

The Swiss government has proposed new legislation aimed at preventing extremist violence and forcing people deemed a threat, including children aged 12 upwards, to be registered with the authorities. House arrest could also be applied to suspects as a last resort in some cases. The idea is to target people who have not yet committed a crime but who are considered to be a risk.

The draft law has come in for criticism from the United Nations, among others, over potential harm to human rights. However, the House of Representatives on Friday approved the proposed measures by 111 votes to 86, after debate on the law was halted on Thursday evening. The Senate has already given its approval.

Preventive detention not accepted

The House did not accept a proposal from its security committee to toughen the draft law with preventive detention of potential terror offenders (incarceration before trial). This is in line with the position of the government, which has already stated that this would contravene the European Convention on Human Rights.

Preventive detention was one of the aspects of the new law criticized by representatives from the United Nations’ Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in a letter to the Swiss government in late May.

In mid-May the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights made her concerns about the draft law clear in a separate letterExternal link. Further criticism has come from Amnesty International which earlier this year condemned the draft law as “draconianExternal link”.

On Tuesday the House of Representatives also accepted measures to tighten criminal law related to terrorism. This would make recruiting, training and travelling with a view to committing a terror act subject to a criminal penalty. Both drafts now go back to the Senate.

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