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Government to strengthen anti-terrorism measures

Published on 22/06/2016

The Swiss cabinet wants to strengthen anti-terrorism legislation to prevent potential jihadists from leaving the country to join terrorist groups abroad. The planned measures include forcing people to regularly report to police stations and even the withdrawal of travel documents.

According the cabinet, there are currently no laws in place to prevent the departure of a Swiss resident seeking to join a foreign terror group like the Islamic State.

“It [the new regulations] will oblige the persons concerned to report regularly to the police station,” said the government statement released on Wednesday. “If this measure is insufficient to meet the objective, or if it is not possible, a decision to withdraw identity documents could be made.”

According to the cabinet, Switzerland’s neighbours France, Italy and Germany already have such measures in place.

The proposed changes to Switzerland’s anti-terror legislation also seeks to allow Fedpol to track the movements of suspected terrorist sympathisers without their knowledge. The authorities will then be informed every time suspects are checked inside or entering the Schengen zone. Only those that pose an internal or external security threat will be subject to this kind of “discreet surveillance”.

Each threat will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis taking into account the principle of proportionality. Switzerland’s internal security will always have priority over preventing the “export” of jihadists.

Real danger

On June 8, a 21 year-old man suspected of having a link to terror groups was arrested at Zurich airport while returning from Turkey. According to information published in the Tribune de Genève newspaper on Wednesday, he is a recent convert to Islam who was radicalised in Geneva. He is currently being held in preventive detention while authorities try to identify his activities in Turkey.

Swiss public television SRF also reported on Wednesday that a leader of a Salafist ring, who was allegedly involved in recruiting youth to join the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, was arrested by the authorities in Winterthur last year. The Attorney General’s Office refused to confirm the arrest but reprimanded SRF for potentially jeopardising their investigation by publishing the information too early.

swissinfo.ch and agencies