Correspondent Philippe de Rougemont (Datas and other Swiss newspapers) just wrote me with an update on Rhino, Geneva's most well-known squat--
News on the Geneva (Switzerland) squatter front:
The state prosecutor, Daniel Zappelli elected 2 years
ago is a "zero tolerance" fan. He decided to stop 33
years of tolerance towards squatters in Geneva, in a
recent speech and through everything that was in his
power to do.
But this time even the cantonal authorities say he's
gone too far. He said he would use force to evict
squatters, forgetting that the police is not submited
to his orders, but to the police department headed by
an elected politician.
Why did he get so mad? Because the Rhino aquatters
appealed to the federal tribunal against
his messy evacuation order, on formal grounds, and
won. Then the administrative tribunal in Geneva agreed
with the federal tribunal. Zapelli hit the ceiling
when he heard that.
Reminder: The first modern squats began in 1972 in
Geneva. Since then there has been a sometimes
informal, sometimes explicit doctrine ruling squats:
as long as an owner is not using his house or
building, then it is legitimate for squatters to live
in them. When the owner proves that he will either
mend the house, rent out flats or either sell it, then
the evacuation notice is given and the squatters
Now that's history, at least as long as Zappelli
To conclude, there is still a hunger for more comunal
living, there is a huge lack of housing and prices are
going up. So the reasons for a new squatter phenomenon
in Geneva are still very much present.
And Rhino people ?
They benefit from this quarrel between the prosecutor
and the government, and they are on the winning side
for the time being. You can only guess waht will
happen, on one side private property is guaranteed in
the constitution, on the other, the "zero tolerance
fan" has no jurisdiction over the police to force them
to evacuate squatters.
I'm blown away by the capacity these Rhinos seem to
have to avoid the eviction.
If you read French, here are two links to articles on the squatter standoff from swissinfo:
le procureur général tancé à propos des squats
Conflit naissant entre judiciaire et politique