Personal liberty and deprivation of liberty
On this page you will find legal guarantees and other regulations from the Swiss Federal Constitution, the European and international human rights treaties and further documents under international law. This list is not intended to be exhaustive, as regulations from other regional treaties and topically similar safeguarding provisions of international humanitarian law are not included.
Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999
(English is not an official language of the Swiss Confederation. This translation is provided for information purposes only and has no legal force.)
Article 10 (Right to life and to personal freedom):
(2) Everyone has the right to personal liberty and in particular to physical and mental integrity and to freedom of movement. ...
Article 31 (Deprivation of liberty): (1) No one may be deprived of their liberty other than in the circumstances and in the manner provided for by law.
(2) Anyone deprived of their liberty has the right to be notified without delay and in a language they can understand of the reasons for their detention and of their rights. They must be given the opportunity to exercise their rights, in particular, the right to have their next-of-kin informed.
(3) Anyone in pre-trial custody has the right to be brought before a court without delay. The court shall decide whether the person must remain in detention or be released. Anyone in pre-trial custody has the right to have their case decided within a reasonable time.
(4) Anyone who has been deprived of their liberty by a body other than a court has the right to have recourse to a court at any time. The court shall decide as quickly as possible on the legality of their detention.
Article 32 (Criminal proceedings): (1) Everyone is presumed innocent until they have been found guilty by a court of law.
(2) Every accused person has the right to be notified as quickly and comprehensively as possible of the charge brought against them. They must be given the opportunity to assert their right to a proper defence.
(3) Every convicted person has the right to have their conviction reviewed by a higher court, with the exception of cases in which the Federal Supreme Court is the court of first instance.
European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedom
Article 5 (Right to liberty and security): (1) Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person.
No one shall be deprived of his liberty save in the following cases and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law:
(a) the lawful detention of a person after conviction by a competent court;
(b) the lawful arrest or detention of a person for non-compliance with the lawful order of a court or in order to secure the fulfilment of any obligation prescribed by law;
(c) the lawful arrest or detention of a person effected for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority of reasonable suspicion of having committed and offence or when it is reasonably considered necessary to prevent his committing an offence or fleeing after having done so;
(d) the detention of a minor by lawful order for the purpose of educational supervision or his lawful detention for the purpose of bringing him before the competent legal authority;
(e) the lawful detention of persons for the prevention of the spreading of infectious diseases, of persons of unsound mind, alcoholics or drug addicts, or vagrants;
(f) the lawful arrest or detention of a person to prevent his effecting an unauthorized entry into the country or of a person against whom action is being taken with a view to deportation or extradition.
(2) Everyone who is arrested shall be informed promptly, in a language which he understands, of the reasons for his arrest and the charge against him.
(3) Everyone arrested or detained in accordance with the provisions of paragraph 1(c) of this article shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release pending trial. Release may be conditioned by guarantees to appear for trial.
(4) Everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful.
(5) Everyone who has been the victim of arrest or detention in contravention of the provisions of this article shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Article 9: (1) Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest or detention. No one shall be deprived of his liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedure as are established by law.
(2) Anyone who is arrested shall be informed, at the time of arrest, of the reasons for his arrest and shall be promptly informed of any charges against him.
(3) Anyone arrested or detained on a criminal charge shall be brought promptly before a judge or other officer authorized by law to exercise judicial power and shall be entitled to trial within a reasonable time or to release. It shall not be the general rule that persons awaiting trial shall be detained in custody, but release may be subject to guarantees to appear for trial, at any other stage of the judicial proceedings, and, should occasion arise, for execution of the judgement.
(4) Anyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings before a court, in order that that court may decide without delay on the lawfulness of his detention and order his release if the detention is not lawful.
(5) Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.
Article 10: (1) All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person.
(2) (a) Accused persons shall, save in exceptional circumstances, be segregated from convicted persons and shall be subject to separate treatment appropriate to their status as un-convicted persons;
(b) Accused juvenile persons shall be separated from adults and brought as speedily as possible for adjudication.
(3) The penitentiary system shall comprise treatment of prisoners the essential aim of which shall be their reformation and social rehabilitation. Juvenile offenders shall be segregated from adults and be accorded treatment appropriate to their age and legal status.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Article 37: States Parties shall ensure that:
(b) No child shall be deprived of his or her liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily. The arrest, detention or imprisonment of a child shall be in conformity with the law and shall be used only as a measure of last resort and for the shortest appropriate period of time;
(c) Every child deprived of liberty shall be treated with humanity and respect for the inherent dignity of the human person, and in a manner which takes into account the needs of persons of his or her age. In particular, every child deprived of liberty shall be separated from adults unless it is considered in the child's best interest not to do so and shall have the right to maintain contact with his or her family through correspondence and visits, save in exceptional circumstances;
(d) Every child deprived of his or her liberty shall have the right to prompt access to legal and other appropriate assistance, as well as the right to challenge the legality of the deprivation of his or her liberty before a court or other competent, independent and impartial authority, and to a prompt decision on any such action.
International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families
Article 16: (1) Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to liberty and security of person.
(2) Migrant workers and members of their families shall be entitled to effective protection by the State against violence, physical injury, threats and intimidation, whether by public officials or by private individuals, groups or institutions. [...]
(4) Migrant workers and members of their families shall not be subjected individually or collectively to arbitrary arrest or detention; they shall not be deprived o their liberty except on such grounds and in accordance with such procedures as are established by law. [...]
Article 17 governs the deprivation of libertiy of migrant workers and their family members.
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
Article 14 (Liberty and security of the person): (1) States Parties shall ensure that persons with disabilities, on an equal basis with others:
Enjoy the right to liberty and security of person;
Are not deprived of their liberty unlawfully or arbitrarily, and that any deprivation of liberty is in conformity with the law, and that the existence of a disability shall in no case justify a deprivation of liberty.
(2) States Parties shall ensure that if persons with disabilities are deprived of their liberty through any process, they are, on an equal basis with others, entitled to guarantees in accordance with international human rights law and shall be treated in compliance with the objectives and principles of this Convention, including by provision of reasonable accommodation.
(This Convention has not been ratified by Switzerland.)
- Federal Constitution of the Swiss Confederation of 18 April 1999
- European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
- Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
- Council of Europe – Alleged secret detentions in Council of Europe member states
- International Centre for Prison Studies
- UN - Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment
- United Nations Rules for the Protection of Juveniles Deprived of their Liberty
Update: 19.08.2011Zurück zur Artikelliste «Legal sources by subject»