Update: 24.09.2009

Humanrights.ch Withdraws Charges for Racist Dictum

On 21 September 2009, Humanrights.ch filed charges at the Public Attorney's Office of the canton of Appenzell Ausserrhoden because a racist dictum was told in front of the Swiss television camera. According to the human rights organization, the penal proscription of racial discrimination was violated. By filing charges, Humanrights.ch aims to reflect on the relation between proscription of racial discrimination and freedom of expression. On 23 September, following a "strong pressure", public excuses were presented. On 24 Septmeber, the human rights organization withdrewed its charges.

Song ending with a racist dictum

During the 16 August 2009 Schwägalp Swiss wrestling tournament, the Swiss-German TV transmitted a racist dictum made by a Jodel choir from the village of Urnäsch. Before smoking their traditional tobacco, they ended their song with a dictum that said «when the Bible says you have to love your enemy, it surely meant our traditional tobacco, and not the damned Yougos». Shortly after, a TV viewer called the Swiss TV ombudsperson. Urs Leutert, chief of sports on the Swiss-German TV, presented excuses and characterized the broadcasted sequence as «obscene, vulgar and xenophobic». The jodlers found that was «just a saying». The president of the Jodel choir of Urnäsch refused to forbid such dicta, saying they are part of freedom of expression.

Of freedom of expression and its limits

Filing the charges, Humanrights.ch hopes to clarify the limits of freedom of expression. According to publically agreed - formally or implicitly - conventions, these limits begin when someone is, because of ethnic origin, the religion or the race attributed, deprived of his or her human rights on equality. Also, the human rights organization emphasizes in its press release of 22 September 2009 that engaging to guarantee the non discrimination of fundamental rights is not only legally advised, but it is also the last guarantor for a sustainable social cohesion in our country and for an efficient integration of foreigners.

Public excuses presented, charges withdrawn

On 23 September 2009, the day after Humanrights.ch published its press release, the Swiss-German TV filmed the public excuses by the president of the Jodel choir of Urnäsch, standing in front of all his singers. Officially, the choir regretts that their dictum wounded certain's dignity. However, remains the incomprehension in front of the strong pressure supported. Singers admitted they regretted less the racist dictum as the fact it had been filmed and broadcasted. The TV speaker reminded the audience that excuses by the Swiss-German TV had been immediately presented. Humanrights.ch decided to withdraw its charges. The reflexion on the limits of freedom of expression, it said, must go on.

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