Update: 18.09.2009

Praise and Blame by Council of Europe Body ECRI

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) released on 15 September 2009 its fourth monitoring report examining racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in Switzerland. Prepared by a Committee of experts of the 47 Council of Europe member states, the report focuses on the implementation of its previous recommendations will be followed up with a assessment in two years time. It notes positive developments at federal as well as local levels to foster the integration of immigrants but also details continuing grounds for concern, such as the lack of juridical protection against the discrimination of immigrants. The Swiss Federal Commission against Racism FCR share these observations and announced that it will release a study and recommendations on this issue by the end of 2009.

Positive developments

The ECRI welcomes the measures taken by Switzerland since its last monitoring report in January 2004, in particular to foster the integration of immigrants, to raise awareness on racism and racial discrimination an to combat right-wing extremism. In particular, the ECRI mentions the right to judicial appeal in the naturalization process, efforts of integration at school level for pupils of immigrant origin, the national research programme on right-wing extremism, measures to combat police misconduct, regular statements by the federal authorities against racism and intolerance, and efforts to monitor racist-related incidents - efforts to which Humanrights.ch's project "Network of Consultation Services  for Victims of Racism" was decisive. An intensification of this monitoring is recommended by the ECRI.

Issues of concern

The main criticism of the ECRI focuses on its insufficiently developed legislation to deal with direct racial discrimination, that is also in non-State related areas. The ECRI also deplores the " dangerous growth of racist political discourse against non-citizens, Muslims, Black people and other minorities" and name in particular the Central Democratic Union Party. In its press release, the ECRI further states its concerns so " Travellers and Yenish communities with an itinerant life style are still faced with a shortage of stopping sites and prejudice leading to instances of discrimination. Legislation governing asylum seekers has been tightened and hostility towards them has increased." The ECRI also gives a number of recommendations, including the ratification of Protocol No. 12 to the ECHR, the necessity to train police forces prosecutors and judges into combating racial discrimination and efforts to be made in order to combat racism in political discourse.


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