FECL 10 (November 1992):

NEW START FOR POLITICAL POLICING WITHOUT LEGAL BASE

The hunt against the "enemies of the state" is to be officially reopened in Switzerland after years of reduced activity in the aftermath of the Swiss police-file scandal (see FECL No 6, p. 1-5).
A legal base for these "state protective" activities is still lacking. A draft bill on state protection of the government drew such strong protest from different quarters that a new law can not be expected to come into force soon.
The government decided to circumvent the legal problem by resorting to "ordinances" and "directives" which present the advantage of not being subject to parliamentary approval.
The "directives regarding the carrying out of state protection" and the ordinance on ISIS, an electronic data base for state protection, will come into force on 1 October.

In spite of strong public calls for a precise definition of the role of state protection, the provisions of the governmental directive remain vague. "Violent extremism" for instance is defined as "organized efforts, whose representatives reject democracy, human rights or the constitutional state and carry out, approve or put up with acts of violence for achieving their purposes."

Critics point out that the term "approve" almost calls for spying on other peoples opinions, while the term "put up with" can be used against e.g. non-violent participants at a (maybe authorized) demonstration that ended with rioting.

State protection data can still be handed out to private persons. The filming and recording of any event in public places is expressly authorized. However, as opposed to a provision in the first draft bill on state protection, the collection of intelligence throught the use of covert agents is prohibited.

The Swiss section of the International Association of Democratic Jurists (AIJD) remarked that the elastic provisions of the directive allow for snooping against "any organization or group". Together with the social-democratic party (SPS) and the Committee "Schluss mit dem Schnffelstaat" (Stop the Snooping State) it calls for the withdrawal of the directive which is disputed even within the government.

The SPS furthermore announced parliamentary action.

The ordinance on the ISIS-data base regulates the stocking of the approximatively 30'000 new personal files collected by state security since May 1990 in a computerized information system for state protection. In a next stage about 3 per cent (according to the Federal Police) of the 900'000 old state protection files will be transferred to the new system.

The fact that the federal police has succeeded in collecting 30'000 new files within two years is not only due to the relentless snooping spirit of the national police. Indeed, the international information network on terrorist activitiesformerly known under the name "Kilowatt-group" (see FECL No.2, p.1) hasted to up-date the Swiss Federal Police which found itself deprived of the totality of its files on 15 May 1990 after the "file scandal". "Kilowatt" made particular efforts in rearming the Swiss state protection system during the Gulf war. The Israeli secret services flooded Berne with such a list of "dangerous" Arabs that the federal Police thought it best to carry out a "cleaning up" operation in its data base after the war.

N.B.

 

Sources: Urs Frieden, Alter Pfusch in neuen Compis, Wochenzeitung (Zurich), 18.9.92; Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 13/14.9.92; Komitee Schluss mit dem Schnüffelstaat, Postfach 6948, CH-3001 Berne, tel: +41/31 454858, fax: +41/31 452258