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Basel re-imposes restrictions on begging in public

Dozens of Roma people took to the streets of Basel to ask for money or food last year after parliament temporarily lifted a ban on begging. Keystone/Georgios Kefalas

Begging in the streets of the Swiss city of Basel will again be subject to strict rules amid months of public controversy.

This content was published on June 24, 2021 - 16:12
swissinfo.ch with SRF and Keystone-SDA/urs

The parliament of canton Basel City agreed on a set of restrictions just short of a blanket ban on begging. It specifies areas where such activities are outlawed and cracks down on organised begging.

The political left, which had come out the regulations, failed to win a majority for a compromise in parliament on Wednesday.

Basel, Switzerland’s third-largest city, suspended a ban on begging in 2019, attracting dozens of notably nomadic Roma people and prompting a public protest about their sometimes aggressive begging practice.

Legal experts argue that the parliamentary decision violates the European Human Rights Convention and they consider calling on the Swiss Supreme Court to intervene.

In January, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that a ban on begging in the Swiss city of Geneva was in breach of human dignity and privacy rights.

As a result, the Geneva authorities lifted the restrictions introduced in 2008.

Begging is banned in most Swiss cantons, but associations working with marginalised people say that the bans are hitting the most vulnerable.

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