Swiss criminal deportation campaign draws criticism

Sunday, September 2, 2007
Ueli Maurer, president of the Swiss People's Party SVP, smiled in front of a campaign poster reading "create security" July 13 during a news conference in Bern, Switzerland. (Peter Klaunzer ~ Keystone)

GENEVA -- The campaign poster was blatant in its xenophobic symbolism: Three white sheep kicking out a black sheep over a caption that read "create security."

The message was not from a fringe force in Switzerland's political scene, but from its largest party. The nationalist Swiss People's Party is proposing a deportation policy that anti-racism campaigners say evokes Nazi-era practices. Under the plan, entire families of foreigners would be expelled if their children are convicted of a violent crime, drug offenses or benefits fraud.

"We believe that parents are responsible for bringing up their children. If they can't do it properly, they will have to bear the consequences," said Ueli Maurer, president of the People's Party.

Ronnie Bernheim of the Swiss Foundation against Racism and Anti-Semitism said the proposal was similar to the Nazi practice of "Sippenhaft" -- or kin liability -- whereby relatives of criminals were held responsible for his or her crimes and punished equally.

Similar practices occurred during Stalin's purges in the early days of the Soviet Union and the 1966-1976 Cultural Revolution in China, when millions were persecuted for their alleged ideological failings.

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