U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Switzerland
|Publisher||United States Department of State|
|Publication Date||30 January 1998|
|Cite as||United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State Country Report on Human Rights Practices 1997 - Switzerland, 30 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aa1c14.html [accessed 23 August 2014]|
Released by the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, January 30, 1998.
SWITZERLANDSwitzerland is a constitutional democracy with a federal structure and an independent judiciary. The bicameral Parliament elects the seven members of the Federal Council, the highest executive body, whose presidency rotates annually. Because of the nation's linguistic and religious diversity, the Swiss political system emphasizes local and national political consensus and grants considerable autonomy to individual cantons. The Swiss armed forces are a civilian-controlled militia based on universal military service for able-bodied males. There is virtually no standing army apart from training cadres and a few essential headquarters staff functions. Police duties are primarily a responsibility of the individual cantons, which have their own distinct police forces that are kept under effective control. The National Police Authority has a coordinating role and relies on the cantons for actual law enforcement. There were allegations of occasional abuses by police. Switzerland has a highly developed free enterprise, industrial, and service economy strongly dependent on international trade. The standard of living is very high. The Government fully respects human rights, and there were no major human rights problems. However, there continue to be allegations by nongovernmental organizations (NGO's) of occasional police harassment directed against foreigners, particularly asylum seekers, and reports of verbal abuse against foreigners by private citizens. Some laws still tend to discriminate against women, although a new federal law came into force in 1996 that is designed to promote gender equality in the labor market. The Government is continuing to take serious steps to address violence against women.