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I emailed this article to the professor whom I'm taking an international law and human rights course from, and asked him what he thought.

He said that this was a case where there were differing understandings of citizenship.  Where in the United States and France you have the "law of the soil", i.e. if you are born here you are a citizen, Switzerland and many other European countries have the "law of the blood" you are a citizen only if born of a citizen.

Thus, you can have the situation where a family has lived for 2-3 generations but haven't earned citizenship.

On the more specific issue of whether the "collective punishment" aspect was something adjudicatable under international law, he said that in the absence of another violation of international human rights law, this is entirely "legal."  

On a side note, this particular professor was born stateless the child of Austrian Jewish parents in 1945 in Switzerland.  Although he's now an American, his first citizenship was Swiss, and he has quite a favorable opinion of Switzerland's record on human rights.

For me, I'm disturbed, because this is the country that my great grandfather came from in 1886.  Switzerland has been a democracy for over 700 years, the longest continous democracy in the world.  Yet, while the Swiss have their flaws, there is much of which to be proud.  And much to believe that though they will falter, they will not fall to the specter of history that confronts their neighbor to the north.

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Fri Sep 7th, 2007 at 03:33:39 PM EST
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