Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied. (File/AFP)
Updated 19 March 2019

Swiss parliament backs expelling militants to states that use torture

  • Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied
  • One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland

ZURICH: Switzerland’s parliament approved allowing convicted militants to be sent home to countries where they could face torture, leaving the government to decide how to implement the motion without breaking international law.
The Swiss constitution bans expelling people to countries where they might be subject to torture. But parlimament’s upper house on Tuesday narrowly adopted a motion allowing exceptions for foreign militants, as the Swiss lower house had done.
The motion stems from discontent among lawmakers over the ability of Iraqi militants convicted in Swiss courts of aiding Daesh to avoid being sent home because of the ban on exposing people to torture or other inhumane treatment.
Conservative critics say the ban has cost taxpayer money to care for convicted militants and angered citizens who say Switzerland should not have to host such people on its soil.
Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter told a debate in parliament that the government sympathized with proponents of the measure but its hands were tied.
“The security of the Swiss population has top priority but we also have to adhere to the limits of the rule of law.”
One of the convicted militants is a wheelchair-bound man found guilty in 2016 of planning terrorist attacks and helping Daesh operatives enter Switzerland. Freed from prison, he now lives in a transit center for asylum seekers and is fighting extradition.
Switzerland said this month it would not help bring home its own stranded citizens who had joined extremist forces in Syria and Iraq, insisting national security was paramount.
Switzerland is a signatory to the United Nations’ 1984 Convention against Torture, which bars expulsions of people to another state where there are substantial grounds for believing they would be in danger of being subjected to torture.
Iraq is also a party to the convention, but lacks laws or guidelines providing for judicial action when defendants allege torture or mistreatment, Human Rights Watch said in a report last year. It said torture was rampant in Iraq’s justice system.


India closes on Russia toll as coronavirus cases hit daily record

Updated 05 July 2020

India closes on Russia toll as coronavirus cases hit daily record

  • The health ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours
  • The sharp rise came as Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds

NEW DELHI: India added a record number of coronavirus cases Sunday, approaching Russia as the world’s third-most infected nation as it opens a mass treatment center in the capital to fight the pandemic.
The health ministry reported just under 25,000 cases and 613 deaths in 24 hours — the biggest daily spike since the first case was detected in late January.
The sharp rise came as Delhi started treating patients at a spiritual center converted into a sprawling isolation facility and hospital with 10,000 beds, many made of cardboard.
About the size of 20 football fields, the facility will treat mild symptomatic and asymptomatic cases.
State government officials fear the metropolis could record more than half-a-million cases by the end of the month.
India’s surge took the total tally to more than 673,000 cases and 19,268 deaths, with the country on the cusp of surpassing badly-hit Russia.
A strict lockdown in place since late March has gradually been lifted, allowing most activities as the economy nose-dived amid the shutdown.
Schools, metro trains in cities, cinemas, gyms and swimming pools remain closed however and international flights are still grounded.
Authorities have made wearing masks mandatory in public places, while large gatherings are banned and shops and other public establishments are required to implement social distancing.
The western state of Maharashtra, the worst-hit state and home to financial hub Mumbai, recorded over 7,000 new cases.
Southern Tamil Nadu state and the national capital New Delhi recorded more than 4,200 and 2,500 fresh cases respectively.
Mumbai, Delhi and Chennai, Tamil Nadu’s capital, are the worst-affected cities.
The national government says it has tackled the virus well but critics allege India is conducting very few tests, leaving the true scale of the pandemic unknown.