Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 October 2014, 15:22 GMT

Amnesty International Report 2006 - Switzerland

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 23 May 2006
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 2006 - Switzerland, 23 May 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/447ff7a21a.html [accessed 21 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Allegations of ill-treatment, use of excessive force and racist abuse by police officers continued. A federal amendment to the asylum law was proposed which would violate the UN Refugee Convention by limiting asylum-seekers' access to an effective asylum and appeals procedures. Although important steps were taken by the legislature and police in several cantons, domestic violence against women remained a significant problem.

Police racism, ill-treatment and use of excessive force

The UN Committee against Torture (CAT) and the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights published their recommendations on Switzerland in May and June respectively. Both recommended the creation of an independent regional (cantonal) appeal commission that could examine complaints against police forces. CAT also recommended that victims and their families should be informed of their right to pursue compensation and that procedures should be made more transparent. In this regard CAT requested information about what steps Switzerland had taken to compensate the families of two people who had died during forcible deportation. The Commissioner proposed that an observer should be present during deportations of foreign nationals and insisted that private security agencies should not be permitted to manage deportations.

Following protests by a large number of international and national institutions and organizations, the government prohibited the use of electro-shock weapons, including tasers, during forced deportations of foreign citizens.

Some cantons took significant steps to prevent human rights violations and introduced high human rights standards in policing.

Asylum

In December, parliament proposed an amendment to the federal asylum law, limiting access to an effective asylum and appeal procedure for people who did not have identity documents. It also proposed limiting access to social welfare for rejected asylum-seekers, even if they could not leave Switzerland immediately. This amendment, if approved, risked exacerbating the criminalization and inhuman treatment of asylum-seekers whose applications for asylum have been rejected. Asylum-seekers have consistently complained about abuse and inhuman treatment by cantonal migration offices and cantonal police corps. In the canton of Solothurn, for example, asylum-seekers whose applications were rejected were unable to access social welfare services until the Federal court ruled that this practice was unconstitutional.

Violence against women

Domestic violence remained prevalent throughout Switzerland, despite the fact that the Swiss Penal Code allows for the prosecution of crimes of domestic violence, including rape, without an official complaint from the victim. Other aspects of domestic legislation regarding violence in the home varied between cantons.

A new federal law concerning foreign nationals gave rise to concerns as it failed to protect victims of domestic violence who were classified as non-nationals. They had a right to stay in Switzerland independently of continued marriage or cohabitation only if certain conditions were fulfilled, such as if they had been resident in Switzerland for at least three years and had important personal reasons to remain in the country. There were also concerns about the impact of this law on non-nationals who were victims or witnesses in cases of human trafficking, as the law did not give these individuals the right to stay in Switzerland. Cantons were, however, free to give them permission to stay on humanitarian grounds.

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