Update: 11.02.2015

Recommendations by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to Switzerland

Switzerland is insufficiently implementing various parts of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The recommendations published on 4 February 2015 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child contain a wide range of measures for Switzerland to improve the quality of the implementation of children’s rights.

Switzerland is generally lacking a consistent country-wide implementation strategy as well as a corresponding control mechanism. The issues addressed in particular range from repeated calls for an explicit ban of corporal punishment to the lack of access to education for asylum-seeking or disabled children, the call to finally banish female genital mutilation or to forbid irreversible surgical interventions on children with ambiguous sexual characteristics that are unnecessary from a medical point of view.

The concluding remarks by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child are the result of the examination of the state report on Switzerland, the alternative NGO shadow report as well as a hearing of the NGOs in June 2014 and a Swiss governmental delegation in January 2015

The recommendations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child are not legally binding for Switzerland. But they carry great importance as the Federal Social Insurance Office stated in a media release published on 4 February 2015.

The most important recommendations

In its List of Issues published in June 2014 the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child addressed numerous topics which it considered as being problematic and which should be given special attention. Most of these issues were published at the beginning of February 2015 in the committee’s Concluding Observations in the form of recommendations to Switzerland.

On a structural level, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child asks Switzerland to improve the coordination of the implementation of the CRC on a cantonal level and to install an independent supervisory body. Data collection should also be increased and enhanced in key areas.

On a content level, it criticises the lack of protection of undocumented underage migrants and asylum-seeking children as well as the lack of social integration of disabled children. Children of undocumented migrants should be granted easier access to schooling, apprenticeships and tertiary education. There is also a need for better access to the health system.

Among the recommendations that have been repeatedly addressed to Swiss authorities by UN organs are the explicit ban of corporal punishment in a formal law, the withdrawal of the reservations by Switzerland on the family reunification for certain groups of asylum seekers (Art.10 para.1 CRC), the separation of juvenile and adult prisoners (Art. 37 lit. c CRC), legal assistance as well as the issue of the role of judges who conduct investigations and also pass sentences (Art. 40 CRC).

New issues are the call for better regulation of baby hatches in hospitals because of the right to know about one’s own origin, to consider the best interest of the child in decisions regarding adoption of children, surrogate motherhood and for a moratorium to irreversible surgical interventions on children with ambiguous sexual characteristics that are unnecessary from a medical point of view. A topic addressed in particular by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is the lack of respect by business enterprises and particularly by big multinationals for children’s rights in Switzerland and abroad. Self-regulatory instruments for business enterprises are not enough to assure that children’s rights are respected by Swiss companies at home and abroad. For the first time the Committee voiced concerns about incidents and hate speech against LGBTI children (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, inter-sexual) and called for Switzerland to take the necessary measures for the protection from discrimination because of sexual orientation and sexual identity.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child addressed 31 recommendations to Switzerland on the implementation of the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. The aim of these recommendations is better protection of minors from human trafficking and sexual exploitation.

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