Swiss to vote on suicide tourism “tax”

In a twist on the old adage that you can’t escape death and taxes, the Swiss are to vote on a “death tax” on foreigners who visit the country to take advantage of its liberal assisted suicide law.

Dignitas, a Zurich-based group, helps foreigners commit suicide. They normally arrive 2 or 3 days before their demise. Apart from ethical considerations, many Swiss see this as bad public relations.

So opponents of this so-called “suicide tourism” propose imposing a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs (US$47,000) on Dignitas if it helps kill a person who has not lived in Switzerland for at least a year. A referendum on the proposal is scheduled for November 28.

Daniel Suter, Zurich president of the Swiss Federal Democratic Union party, which is behind the vote, says: “we believe this will cut down the number of suicides dramatically. There needs to be an end to death tourism. We anticipate the fine will be passed on to the person committing suicide by the suicide organisation. Effectively foreigners will be discouraged from coming to Zurich to die.''

However, Ludwig Minelli, the founder of Dignitas, seems unconcerned by the move. Even if the referendum proposal passes it will be challenged in the Swiss courts and in the European Court of Human Rights. ~ Irish Independent, Jan 23

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