Geneva expelled more than half of all the foreign criminals deported from French-speaking Switzerland in 2017, according to statistics published by the association of police and judicial chiefs for French- and Italian-speaking Switzerland.
In October 2016, a new law on deporting foreign criminals came into force, the result of a vote organized by the Swiss People’s Party (UDC/SVP). The new rules require foreigners convicted of serious crimes be expelled from the country, including those on B- and C-permits.
The law gives judges a certain degree of wiggle room and Geneva seems to have come up with a systematic method for applying this judicial discretion. Speaking to Tribune de Genève, Olivier Jornot, Geneva’s Attorney General explained that he has put in place clear and effective measures regarding itinerant criminals, measures which ensure the systematic deportation of those without residence permits. Criminals with B- or C-permits are rarely deported, he said.
In 2017, the top three deportee nationalities were Albanian, Romanian and Algerian. Not all left the country however. Returning people to Algeria is not currently possible. In 2017, only 139 of the 238 deportation judgements in Geneva were carried out. In some cases deportation is postponed until the the individual has served their prison sentence.
Valais (12), Fribourg (13), Neuchâtel (5), Jura (5) and Vaud (127), Switzerland’s other French-speaking cantons, recorded far fewer criminal expulsions. 238 (56%) of the 427 total, reported by Le Matin, were in Geneva. The numbers are not in proportion to population. Geneva (491k) has a smaller population than Vaud (788k).
Jean-Pierre Greter, the Attorney General in Valais thinks the low figure in his canton is down to geography and the rural nature of the region.
Last year, speaking to RTS, Pierre Aubert, the Attorney General of Neuchâtel, talked of a degree of judicial resistance to the new law in the canton’s judiciary, particularly in relation to convicted criminals who had grown up in Switzerland.
Éric Cottier, Vaud’s Attorney General rejects to notion that Vaud is being lax.
So are French-speaking cantons beyond Geneva applying the new deportation rules properly?
Jornot, Geneva’s Attorney General is not sure. In addition, he thinks not applying the law properly risks another referendum on the subject.
Yves Nidegger, a national councillor from the UDC, the party behind the initiative, thinks even Geneva isn’t applying the law rigorously enough. He thinks those charged with serious crimes with residence permits should lose them.