Swiss to jail “incurable” sex offenders for life

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 have approved in a referendum.

The measure, which was opposed by the country`s coalition government, was approved by some 54 percent of voters in a referendum on Sunday 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 experts agree that the offenders are incurable, then they must be jailed for the rest of their lives. They 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, from the centre-left to the right, was already 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.