GENEVA: Switzerland will ban all convicted paedophiles from working with children for life from next year, the government said Wednesday, announcing that it had converted a four-year-old referendum decision into law.
In May 2014, Swiss voters overwhelmingly supported an initiative calling on lawmakers to introduce one of Europe’s harshest laws against those convicted of sexually abusing children or dependent adults.
The new law, set to take effect on January 1, requires judges to systematically impose lifetime bans on adults convicted of sexual infractions against minors or other vulnerable individuals on working with such groups, the government said in a statement.
Judges will be required to make this ruling in all cases, regardless of the sentence and whether or not the perpetrator is considered responsible for his or her actions, it said.
Switzerland has until now allowed for child interaction bans of up to 10 years against paedophiles sentenced to at least six months behind bars.
The government, which had opposed the text voted on four years ago over concerns it left no room for legal interpretation on the gravity or nature of the crime, has left some wiggle room in the final version of the law.
The final text allows judges to use their discretion and refrain from imposing a lifetime ban in some cases considered not very serious and where there is no risk of relapse.
“This especially concerns cases of young love,” said the government, which in 2014 had warned of the risk that a ban might be imposed on a 20-year-old who has sexual relations with someone just under the legal age of consent of 16, or even on underage children who exchange pornographic material.
Bern said however that in cases where a psychiatric examination confirms paedophile tendencies, “no exception will be possible”.