Although often considered the safest country in the world, Switzerland’s liberal view on security policy and surveillance could soon change with proposed tightening of anti-terror laws.
In an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Dr Christina Schori Liang, Leader of the Terrorism and Organised Crime Thematic Cluster at the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP), states that Switzerland’s neutral policy and its non-participation in military operations -- since it is not part of the global coalition against the Islamic State -- are the reasons it is still considered one of the safest countries. At the same time, Liang highlights that terrorist organisations, such as the so-called “Islamic State”, operate internationally and globally. For this reason, Liang promotes more intensive international cooperation on transnational intelligence sharing as regards modern terrorists’ modus operandi worldwide.
Counteracting radicalisation within Switzerland has already begun, with 70 new anti-terrorist posts as well as the new Intelligence Service Act - passed by the Swiss Electorate in 2016 and entering into effect on 1 September 2017. The proposal would entail a “significant paradigm shift in the architecture of Swiss security law”. It allows for the prohibition of organisations or groupings that support terrorist or violent extremist activities which “threaten internal or external security”.
While the national security problems concerning jihadists in France, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Germany receive more press attention, Switzerland is dealing with similar problems. FEDPOL has expressed concern that Switzerland could be used as a logistical base for jihadists, since it acts as a transit country. Additionally, the Swiss Federal Police (FEDPOL) reported that 88 Swiss residents have travelled to Syria or Iraq since 2001.