FECL 10 (November 1992):

SWISS COURT CONFIRMS RIGHT TO RESISTANCE AGAINST DEPORTATION OF PERSECUTEES

In 1991 nine members of a local asylum defence committee in the Canton of Obwalden actively tried to resist the police in arresting and deporting a group of turkish-kurdish refugees whose asylum applications had been rejected. In Summer 1991 one of the members of the committee, Margrit Spichtig-Nann, a school teacher was sentenced to five weeks of imprisonment and a fine of 2000 Swiss francs by the local penal court for assisting a person in seeking illegal residence.

This judgement was recently reversed by the same court in other composition after an appeal by Mrs. Spichtig.

The court admitted exonerating evidence produced by the teacher showing that she had good reasons to assume that the Kurdish refugees concerned would be exposed to grave danger if deported to Turkey and that she thus had the right to resist the authorities in carrying out the deportation. As mere putative necessity (the subjective assumption of the privilege of necessity) results in impunity the judges did not go into the question if the deportation measure ordered by the Federal Department of Justice and Police was objectively justified or not.

Nevertheless the quite spectacular acquittal further erodes the credibility of the authorities in charge of asylum. "[With the above decision] justice indirectly assumes a right of all Swiss to resistance whenever they are convinced that they have to oppose a negative asylum decision in order to save the lives of endangered people", the lawyer of Margrit Spichtig says.

 

Paraphrased from WochenZeitung, Zurich, 16.10.92, Ermutigung zur Gegenwehr, by Beat Leuthardt