If USA Has Death Penalty, Why Europe Can't Have It Too?

Switzerland is ready to challenge European traditions again. The controversy about the prohibition on the construction of minarets in this country had hardly subsided before the small nation prepared another surprise to the tolerant Europe. The Swiss started collecting signatures to conduct the referendum to reinstate death penalty.

Capital punishment was officially canceled in Switzerland in 1942, but was valid during the war period. The last execution by shooting took place in Switzerland in 1944. Twelve death sentences were enforced in the country during the WWII years: eleven of them were about the citizens of Nazi Germany, whose actions caused considerable damage to the security of Switzerland.

What made the Alpine nation think about the retrieval of such anachronism? The initiative was set forth by a group of seven people, whose relatives had fallen victims to pedophile rapists. The members of the group believe that Switzerland should retrieve death penalty "for those committing a murder or responsible for a death resulting from sexual abuse of children, sexual violence or rape."

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One shall assume that the restoration of death penalty in the country may trigger protests in Switzerland's neighboring nations. They will obviously pay attention to the fact that such will expressions contradicts to the European Convention for Human Rights. It would not be a first for Switzerland, though: the country has been previously accused of the same twice. Whatever the case, the authorities of the Alpine nation found no obstacles for collecting signatures.

The group will have to collect 100,000 signatures for the referendum to occur on February 24, 2012. We do not know what common people think about the initiative, but the leaders of many political parties of the country treated it extremely negatively.

It is worthy of note that the nation previously held another referendum, which led to protests in neighboring nations: the vote was about lifetime custody for dangerous special offenders after their release.

Everyone who has ever been to European countries can say that the Swiss are much more conservative than their neighbors. This quality is mostly positive rather than negative. Unlike the French, for instance, the Swiss are much more zealous in their attitude to issues of religion, the institute of family and the national culture preservation. They strongly believe that it is their personal matter to determine the future of their country.

Indeed, democracy, which the West glorifies everywhere where it is possible and impossible, stipulates freedom of will expression. Restricting this freedom would be a blatant violation of civil rights of the Swiss nation. In addition, the citizens of this country can resort to the fact that death penalty is an inseparable attribute of the "center of world democracy" - the United States.

Switzerland 's refusal to join the EU is not incidental at this point, in spite of the fact that the nation signed a number of fundamental agreements with the European Union. Switzerland is one of the most economically developed countries in Europe, and it is not going to sacrifice even an iota of its sovereignty for the EU membership.

That said, the European Union can only express its concerns about the events taking place in its non-member country. Until recently, the only European country practicing death penalty was Belarus. It was excluded from the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe for that. Switzerland is not Belarus, of course. Europe will never terminate its relations with this country.

What if Switzerland reinstates death penalty in the end? Will other European countries follow the example? It has already happened before, with minarets.

Sergey Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov