Update: 14.06.2017

Switzerland ratifies the Istanbul Convention

In its special session in May 2017, the National Council followed the Council of States and ratified the 2011 Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, commonly referred to as the Istanbul Convention.

Although Switzerland fulfils the legal standards of the Convention, a lot remains to be done

Both Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and the parliamentary committee rapporteurs stated that Switzerland is fulfilling the standards of the Convention and no legislative amendments are needed. They also said there is still a lot of work to do. Federal Councillor Sommaruga stressed that it is in Switzerland’s interest to address the topics of violence against women and domestic violence as comprehensively and effectively as possible.

Specific legislative work was avoided by introducing four reservations on three Convention articles. The largely technical reservations were not discussed in the National Council. The Green Party briefly addressed the reservation to “partially apply” Art. 59 on the residence status of victims of violence and found it to be unsatisfactory. Contrary to the Istanbul Convention, spouses and cohabiting partners of annual residents, people with short stay permits, and temporarily admitted people who have experienced domestic violence are not entitled to stay in the country if their relationship ends. The Green Party has announced it will launch parliamentary requests on this issue.

Specific legislative work was avoided by introducing four reservations on three Convention articles. The largely technical reservations were not discussed in the National Council. The Green Party briefly addressed the reservation to “partially apply” Art. 59 on the residence status of victims of violence and found it to be unsatisfactory. Contrary to the Istanbul Convention, spouses and cohabiting partners of annual residents, people with short stay permits, and temporarily admitted people who have experienced domestic violence are not entitled to stay in the country if their relationship ends. The Green Party has announced it will launch parliamentary requests on this issue.

NGOs welcome the ratification

Various NGOs praised Switzerland for joining the Convention after 23 other member states of the Council of Europe had previously taken this step. The ratification of the Istanbul Convention “strengthens prevention against violence and protects affected persons comprehensively and effectively,” the feminist peace organisation Christlicher Friedensdienst wrote in its press release. But there is still more to be done. Every three weeks a woman in Switzerland dies as a result of domestic violence, which shows the urgent need for action.

Terre des femmes Switzerland believe that by ratifying the Convention, Switzerland has committed itself to European standards in the fight against violence against women, children, and men. This must be accompanied by comprehensive and concrete measures against violence. Terre des femmes Switzerland also pointed out that prevention and protection must now be provided for all exposed and affected persons irrespective of their age, sex, residence status, or other social status. This would finally allow abused female refugees to have a right to support and protection.

Transgender Network Switzerland believes that once Convention takes effect, transgender persons will be less exposed to violence and will receive adequate support and legal protection as victims.

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