- The Washington Times - Monday, February 9, 2004

GENEVA (Reuters) — Switzerland will jail for life sex offenders and violent criminals who are deemed incapable of reform under a change to the law Swiss voters approved in a referendum yesterday.

The measure, which was opposed by the country’s coalition government, was approved by about 54 percent of voters in a referendum called after supporters gathered the needed 100,000 signatures to stage the ballot.

Critics fear the new law, which will take the form of a constitutional amendment to be prepared by parliament, could contravene international human rights treaties. Under the proposal, violent criminals or sex offenders who are considered very dangerous to society will be examined on conviction by two independent psychiatrists.

If the two doctors agree that an offender is incurable, then he must be jailed for the rest of his life. He can only be released on the basis of new scientific evidence that a cure is possible.

The government, which includes all the leading Swiss parties across the political spectrum, already was preparing a reform to allow for tougher sentences for sex offenders and violent criminals.

It had urged Swiss voters to reject the plan because, it said, it made no allowance for the fact that people can change. But under Swiss rules of direct democracy, the voter has the last word.

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