Update: 17.12.2014

Unacceptable conditions of detention for minors

Most of the young offenders arrested in Switzerland are not treated differently than adults. This is what shows a study by the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) in May 2007. This situation is especially worrying since a new penal code for young offenders came into force in January 2007. It stipulates that remanding a minor in custody should be limited as much as possible; when held, minors should be housed in specialised facilities or in a particular wing of a prison, separate from adults and proper socio-educational support should also be guaranteed. The reality is far different.

Special homes better than prisons

The government study found that in 2005, of 1,005 minors remanded in custody 726 were held in prisons, 273 in special homes and six in hospitals. Young offenders held in special homes are supported by trained educators, and they have the possibility to follow their education. In prisons however, many young offenders, whether during their time in custody or following their sentence, are housed alongside older criminals. Only a very few places of detention were designed in order to segregate adults and youngsters properly and the current prison regime, which is essentially based on security measures, does not provide minors with the necessary socio-educational support.

Not respecting fully the Children rights Convention

The Swiss charity Terre des hommes, which defends children's rights, said it was concerned with the result of this report. "We advocate a different kind of justice for young people abroad, while in Switzerland neither the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child nor the penal code for young offenders are being respected," John Orlando from Terre des hommes told Swiss radio. Switzerland signed and ratified the Convention, but the government put a reservation on article 37. Children’s organisations will put pressure on the authorities to void this reservation.

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