Geneva: 'Project Maghreb' helps deport North African repeat offenders
The police in Geneva estimates that 300-400 illegal North Africans are responsible for more than 6000 crimes over the past four years. In theory, once they serve their sentence, they can be deported back, but in practice Geneva is dependent on readmission agreements signed with other countries. The offenders usually hide their true identity which makes for a long process of identifying them, and then deporting them (either willingly or not). Many offenders claim to come from Algeria, which does not accept forced deportations.
In August the canton's Ministry of Security launched a pilot project to help repeat offenders return to their country voluntarily to pursue vocational training.
A dozen people already benefited from Project Maghreb, and about 50 other detainees, accepted the proposal. Candidates for aid have to meet certain criteria. For example, the candidate must be a repeat offender, and has to identify himself. A spokesperson for the ministry emphasized these are only people who committed minor crimes. They must also follow a credible program, with some taking up mechanic or taxi driver training.
Detainees cost 400-450 francs a day (12,000 a month), while the aid costs 4000 francs. The detainee gets 1000 francs from the Red Cross on his departure. An additional 3000 are transferred by an NGO for the reintegration project. Minister Isabel Rochat says that the project is not funded by tax-payers, but rather by funds seized during anti-drug trafficking operations.
This project enables the detainees to return home honorably and with a free training program. It also ensures they identify themselves, which makes it harder for them to return to Switzerland. It also serves as a stop-gap measure until the readmission agreements are finalized. Other cantons are considering launching similar projects.