Switzerland: Prohibited zones for criminal asylum-seekers
Tagesanzeiger Online 20 August 2012
Several Swiss cantons have declared villages and urban districts as prohibited zones for criminal asylum-seekers. If they enter the area they will be arrested. In Kreuzlingen these measures are already showing results.
Besides the many asylum-seekers within Switzerland who have not done anything wrong there is also a growing number of those who commit crimes. Just within the canton of Zurich the number of criminal asylum-seekers has grown by 49 percent in recent years.
To reduce this number some Swiss cantons have defined certain areas as prohibited zones. According to a report from "10vor10" (a swiss news program) this seems to work. The instances of theft within in the urban district of Kreuzlingen (canton Thurgau) have already plummeted.
The legal authorities of Thurgau declared large areas within the urban district of Kreuzlingen as prohibited zones for criminal asylum-seekers. Police officers regularly monitor the prohibited zones and if they encounter asylum-seekers who committed crimes in the past they immediately arrest them. The sentence for such asylum-seekers can be up to three years imprisonment. By the end of June 2012, 154 criminal asylum-seekers were already cited with prohibition of entry or so called bans. In all of 2010 there were only three cases of this kind.
Thefts are halved
These measures have already shown results in Kreuzlingen: "The instances of shop lifting have already been reduced", Adreas Gachnang from the cantonal Thurgau police department commented to the news program.
"There are half as many thefts compared with last year". The police hope that the bans have a deterrent effect. The asylum seekers in the state accommodation centre are already spreading word that it is dangerous to enter the urban district, canton police officer Andreas Gachnang says.
Restraining Orders in Zurich
The canton of Lucerne also adopted such bans in high numbers. By the end of July this year, so called rayon bans were issued for 154 criminal asylum-seekers. In all of 2011 there were 147 cases.
Recently public authorities in the canton of Zurich have not only issued bans, but also restraining orders against criminal asylum-seekers. Especially for asylum-seekers within villages these measures make sense. "With that we force asylum-seekers to stay within their residential municipality", Franz Bättig, director of the regional police department of Zurich explains. For criminals it is thereby impossible to steal in densely populated areas like the central station of Zurich.
Department for Refugee Relief supports prohibited zones
Even the Department for refugee relief welcomes prohibited zones for criminal asylum-seekers. "Generally we find this is a good solution to protect the population", General Secretary Beat Meiner comments. "But it has to be done in a sensible way and not arbitrarily." Bans should only be applied to asylum-seekers who have actually been convicted of a criminal act.