Does it matter if two burglars are Swiss nationals? Or if a traffic accident was caused by a recently naturalized person? A referendum in Switzerland is being planned, as a popular initiative of the conservative SVP party. It will be submitted to the people on March 7, to force the police to publish the nationality and origin of offenders.
In Zurich, an initiative of the SVP will be submitted to the people on March 7, and demands that the police make public the nationality of offenders in their press releases. It wants to oblige authorities to a systematic publication of the nationality and the origin of the criminals, the suspects and the victims.
The police of the City of Zurich decided in 2017 not to publish this information anymore. And it is one of the few precincts to discontinue the release of ethnically-based data in Switzerland. In fact, because each police force can decide on its practice, the tendency is rather to include nationality.
In response to the decision by the Zurich police, the Swiss People’s Party (SVP) launched a cantonal initiative. The government rejected it, but proposed a counter-project. If accepted, the nationality of offenders must in future be communicated, but not the origins of naturalized persons.
The Young Greens and the Young Socialists do not share this opinion and oppose the initiative and the government’s counter-project.
For Laura Fischer (Jeunes PS), “transparency would mean being attentive to the real causes of crime, such as the financial situation of these people, their level of education or even the violence they may have experienced. We should start there, prevent violence or even promote access to training and fight against financial inequalities”.
In the canton of Solothurn, a similar initiative of the SVP was accepted by the people in 2012 by more than 70 percent. It remains to be seen that the people of Zurich will do the same on March 7.
The SVP has warned against immigrants tapping into the social welfare system and criticised the high proportion of foreigners among the public insurance benefit recipients and other social welfare programs. According to the opinion of the party, such benefits amount to a waste of taxpayers’ money.
Numerous SVP members have shown themselves to be critical of Islam by supporting an initiative to ban the construction of minarets. In November 2009 this ban won the majority vote (57,5 percent) and became an amendment to the Swiss Constitution.
Other victories of the SVP in regards to immigration policy include the federal popular initiatives “for the expulsion of criminal foreigners” (52,3 percent), and “against mass immigration” (50,3 percent) in 2010 and 2014 respectively.