Racism verdict confirmed against People’s Party officials

16th March 2016, Comments 0 comments

Bern’s Supreme Court has upheld the verdict of two top members of the conservative right Swiss People’s Party who had been found guilty of racial discrimination, but it has reduced their conditional fines.

Martin Baltisser, People’s Party general secretary, and his deputy Silvia Bär had appealed to Bern’s top court after being found guilty in April 2015 for an advertising campaign featuring two Swiss who had been attacked by knife-wielding immigrants from Kosovo. 

The campaign, featuring a slogan “Kosovars are cutting up the Swiss!” and the true story of two Swiss who were attacked with knives in 2011, were released in the print media during the run-up to a February 9, 2014 vote on mass immigration and also appeared in 2011 on the party’s website. 

A Bern regional court said Baltisser and Bär had created a hostile attitude towards Kosovars through the advertisement, which it said implied that all Kosovars were criminals. They were both given a conditional fine. These fines have now been reduced.

Most of the 200,000 Albanians in Switzerland are from Kosovo. 

Baltisser told Swiss public radio, SRF their appeal to canton Bern's highest court had been made as a struggle for freedom of expression.  On Tuesday he said the People's Party were considering whether to file a new appeal to the Federal Court.

According to the anti-racism criminal law provisions of 1995, racial discrimination is a criminal offence (Article 261 of the Swiss penal code). Its prohibitions are explicit: incitements to hatred and discrimination; dissemination of discriminatory materials; denial or trivialisation of genocide and other crimes against humanity (e.g. denial of the Holocaust); public discrimination.


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