Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

Freedom of the Press - Switzerland (2007)

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 2 May 2007
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press - Switzerland (2007), 2 May 2007, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/478cd54c28.html [accessed 21 September 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.

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 4 (of 30)
Political Environment: 3 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 5 (of 30)
Total Score: 12 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Media freedom is guaranteed in the constitution and generally respected by the government. The penal code prohibits racial hatred or discrimination. Even though the law does not explicitly prohibit anti-Semitic speech or Holocaust denial, there have been convictions for such forms of expression. In 2006, the Swiss courts decided to investigate Dogu Perincek, a Turkish politician, after he publicly denied the Armenian genocide while in Switzerland. Formal court proceedings had yet to commence in this case at year's end. Transparency legislation adopted in December 2004 went into effect on July 1, 2006. The law applies only to documents produced after July 1, 2006, and contains numerous exceptions.

In 1997, a Swiss federal court found two journalists guilty of inciting an official to disclose a secret, an act considered to be a criminal offense under Article 293 of the Swiss criminal code. However, in April 2006 the European Court of Human Rights overturned the ruling, arguing that a reporter's right to protect his or her sources superseded the domestic Swiss judgment. In 2006, a debate concerning the possibility of amending the Swiss punitive provisions for a breach of confidentiality became particularly relevant when the Swiss Defense Ministry took legal action against two journalists working for SonntagsBlick – one of the most popular newspapers in the country – for reproducing a fax that had been intercepted by the Swiss Intelligence Service and that referred to confidential allegations of CIA prisons in Eastern Europe. The two journalists face up to five years in prison if convicted under the Swiss military penal code.

Broadcast media are dominated by the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation, a public service association subject to private law that operates 7 television networks and 18 radio stations. The corporation is dependent on the government for financing, although its news reporting is politically neutral. Owing to market forces and the multilingual nature of the country, most private stations are limited to local and regional broadcasts. Nearly all homes are connected to cable networks, which provide access to international commercial stations. Daily newspapers are owned by large media conglomerates, which have steadily pushed smaller publications out of the market. The internet is unrestricted by the government and accessed by nearly 68 percent of the population.

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