Update: 07.03.2012

Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg visits Switzerland

Between 20 and 24 February 2012, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Thomas Hammarberg visited Switzerland. During his discussions with two federal councillors, several chief officials and members of parliament as well as with members of civil society Hammarberg tried to get an impression of the human rights situation in Switzerland: In a statement issued at the end of his visit, the Commissioner focused on xenophobia in politics as well as on gaps in anti-discrimination rights.

Appeal to the politicians

In his declaration he called for more decisive efforts to combat racist and xenophobic tendencies in Swiss society, addressing in particular on the political leaders with respect to the votes on the ban on minarets and on the expulsion initiative.

Ombudsperson’s offices in all cantons

The Commissioner for Human Rights also emphasised the need for a strengthening of the fight against discrimination in Switzerland. A new, comprehensive law against discrimination is called for, along with effective mechanisms for supervision, compensation and prevention. Therefore Hammarberg logically pressed for a strengthening of the Federal Commission against Racism FCR and the Federal Migration Commission. In addition, the establishment of ombudsperson’s offices should become a standard in all cantons.

Hammarberg also recommended that Switzerland should ratify the European Social Charter and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

A report will follow

It ranks amongst the duties of the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights to periodically visit all member states of the Council of Europe and to list his findings in a report. The last visit in Switzerland took place in 2004 by predecessor in office Álvaro Gil-Robles and documented in a report in June 2005. The report on the latest visit by Thomas Hammarberg will be due in a couple of months.

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