Update: 27.03.2007

Convention for the Rights of the Child in Switzerland ratified 10 years ago

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) was ratified by the Swiss Parliament on 26 March 1997. Ten years later, several children’s organisations observe the implementation of the CRC in Switzerland. Generally, they agree that the legal situation and living conditions of children have improved over the past decade. Improvements were made thanks to the new divorce law (in which children have a right to voice their opinion – although a study by the NGO Pro Juventute showed that in practice, only one of ten children is consulted), news measures against domestic violence, a Penal Code modification that punishes possession of child pornography, the extend maternity leave (3 months) and the standardisation of family benefits.

More action from the authorities demanded

Child Rights Network Switzerland, which includes about 50 NGOs, is calling for more protection, encouragement and involvement of children in society. The organisation cited a survey carried out by the Terre des hommes charity, which shows that more than 20% of the children and adults in Switzerland have never heard of children’s rights, in particular freedom of expression, information and religion. Many people believed the convention did not concern Switzerland.

The network said the results confirmed that there is a lack of commitment on the part of the government and the 26 cantons to put the convention into practice. They called for a federal office which should coordinate the activities of the cantons on the issue of children’s rights. The organisation also called for a national plan of action in Switzerland, which is seen to lag behind neighbours Germany and Austria.

Children’s rights in asylum

Children’s rights are, if at all, little respected in the application of the new Swiss asylum law. For instance, children are not interviewed by specially trained experts. Under age asylum seekers must in principle not be jailed, and should be separated from adults, but this is not the case for juveniles between 15 and 18 years old. Tutelage is not automatic for under aged asylum seekers, so that they do not receive the necessary care. Access to education is not guaranteed, as required the CRC. The non-governmental Swiss Refugee Council called for measures to improve the status of under age asylum seekers.

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