Far-right party violated anti-racism laws with ′cut up the Swiss′ poster, says court | News | DW | 13.04.2017
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Far-right party violated anti-racism laws with 'cut up the Swiss' poster, says court

Switzerland's largest political party has been found guilty of violating anti-racism laws with a poster that targeted Kosovars. The SVP has criticized the court's decision, saying it undermines the freedom of expression.

An election poster for the right-wing SVP showing three crows surrounding Switzerland

An election poster for the right-wing SVP showing three crows surrounding Switzerland

Switzerland's highest court on Thursday ruled that the Alpine nation's largest political party violated anti-racism laws in a controversial campaign advertisement.

The poster sought to bolster support for limiting immigration with the headline "Kosovars cut up the Swiss" in the wake of a violent attack perpetrated by a suspect with Kosovar heritage in 2011.

The Federal Supreme Court upheld charges of racial discrimination against two former officials of the far-right Swiss People's Party (SVP).

The SVP's former Secretary General Martin Baltisser and his deputy Silvia Baer had earlier been fined more than 23,000 Swiss francs (21,500 euros; $22,900) by a Bern cantonal court.

"Those of Kosovaran heritage are represented as inferior and a hostile climate against them is created … as well as the idea that people from Kosovar are not welcome," the court said in in a statement on the ruling.

"As the lower court rightly concluded, this fulfills fundamental conditions of discrimination and disparagement and the call to hate or discrimination," the court added.

'Cause for concern'

The far-right party issued a statement criticizing the ruling, saying it undermined fundamental Swiss values of freedom of expression.

"The law is being abused to silence unwelcome political opponents," the SVP said. "Such developments in a court that places high value in freedom of expression are a cause for concern."

Despite including details of the 2011 attack in small print on the poster, the court said the majority of readers would likely interpret the message as a broad statement against Kosovars, and not a reference to the incident.

The SVP has courted controversy in the past with a slew of campaign posters often accompanied by anti-immigration slogans.

ls/kms (Reuters, AP)

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