Swiss anti-terror law: special commissioner warns of “fear and horror”


A new, far-reaching definition of terror will be voted on in Switzerland on Sunday. Political protest alone could be fatal for Swiss citizens in the future, warns the UN special rapporteur on torture, Nils Melzer, in an appeal to students in Bern and recommends them to stand up and take responsibility.

Immediately before the Vote on a highly controversial anti-terror law Through the Swiss people on Sunday, the UN special envoy for torture and inhuman treatment, Nils Melzer, warned of the undermining of the rule of law in Switzerland, as well as in other western democracies. Before students of computer science at the University of Applied Sciences in the capital Bern, the lawyer sharply criticized the Swiss Justice Minister and called the legislative process an occasion to consider a popular initiative to create a Swiss constitutional court.

Everyone should be for a terrorism law, said Melzer on Friday afternoon in the Bern University. He can say with certainty that the law that will be put to the vote tomorrow by the Swiss electorate is “not a good one”. Melzer’s main criticism is aimed at what he considers to be a “hair-raising broad” definition of the “terrorist threat”.

According to the proposed law, this is decoupled from a planned or implemented violent crime. Concepts such as the “impending danger” and preventive police coercive measures are also finding their way into German police laws. Nevertheless, according to Melzer, there is no other constitutional state with such a broad definition.

According to the text before the vote, preventive and coercive measures could affect anyone who, for political reasons, spreads “fear and horror”. It could be right-wing populists who warn against foreign infiltration, as well as climate activists or himself, he said. “I’m also spreading fear and horror here right now”.

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The appeasement of the Swiss Justice Minister, Karin Keller-Suter, does not reassure him. The concern that everyone could suddenly become a threat is not at all alarmist. This was shown by the latest house searches of climate activists and their administrators in Lausanne, which the minister was responsible for. The activists had issued a letter calling for people to refuse military service because the military was a bad climate offender.

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