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TITLE: SWITZERLAND HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR: U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE: FEBRUARY 1995









                          SWITZERLAND


Switzerland is a constitutional democracy with a federal 
structure.  The bicameral Parliament elects (from among its 
members or other persons) the seven members of the Federal 
Council, the highest executive body, whose presidency rotates 
annually.  Because of the nation's linguistic and religious 
diversity, the Swiss political system emphasizes local and 
national political consensus, and grants considerable autonomy 
to the cantons.

The Swiss armed forces are a militia based on universal 
military service for able-bodied males.  There is virtually no 
standing army apart from training cadres and a few essential 
headquarters staff functions.  Police duties are primarily a 
responsibility of the individual cantons, which have their own 
distinct police forces.  The National Police Authority has a 
coordination role and relies on the cantons for actual law 
enforcement.

Switzerland has a free enterprise industrial and service 
economy that is highly dependent on international trade.  The 
standard of living is very high.

The Government fully respects human rights.  The electorate 
approved a new antiracism law in September which criminalizes 
racist or anti-Semitic actions and public speech, and ratifies 
the 1960 U.N. Convention Against Racism.  However, there 
continued to be instances of violence against foreigners, and 
the Federal Government is investigating allegations of cantonal 
police mistreatment of detainees during previous years.

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

There were no reports of political or other extrajudicial 
killings.

     b.  Disappearance

There were no reports of disappearances.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

The Constitution proscribes such practices, and there were no 
reports of violations.  Amnesty International (AI) alleged in 
April that during 1992-93 there were 13 cases of minor violence 
against persons in cantonal police custody.  Cantonal police 
forces publicly rejected all the allegations.  The Government 
promptly launched an investigation, and in November published a 
detailed report that also rejected all the allegations.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

The law provides for freedom from arbitrary arrest, detention, 
or exile.  A suspect may not be held longer than 24 hours 
without a warrant issued by the investigative magistrate.  A 
suspect has the right to choose and contact an attorney as soon 
as the warrant is issued; the State provides free counsel for 
indigents.  Investigations are generally prompt.  Release on 
personal recognizance or bail is granted unless the magistrate 
believes the person is dangerous or will not appear for trial.  
Any lengthy detention is subject to review by higher judicial 
authorities.  Some foreigners were held in lengthy detention 
while awaiting trial.

There is no summary exile, nor is exile used as a mean of 
political control.  Non-Swiss convicted of crimes may receive 
sentences which include denial of reentry for a specified 
period following completion of a prison sentence.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

The judiciary is independent of the other branches of 
government, and is free of interference from them at both the 
federal and the cantonal levels.

The Constitution provides for public trials in which the 
defendant's rights are fully respected, including the right to 
challenge and to present witnesses or evidence.  All courts of 
first instance are local or cantonal courts.  Minor cases are 
tried by a single judge, difficult cases by a panel of judges, 
and serious crimes (such as murder) by a public jury.  Trials 
are usually held expeditiously.  Citizens have the right to 
appeal to the federal court.

There are no political prisoners.

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 
         Correspondence

Cantonal laws regulate police entry into private premises.  
These laws differ widely from canton to canton, but all 
prohibit arbitrary intrusion.  There were no reports of 
violations of these rights.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution provides for freedom of speech and press; an 
effective judiciary and democratic political system, along with 
an independent press, combine to ensure this is fully 
implemented.  The authorities may legally restrict these 
freedoms for groups deemed to be a threat to the State, but no 
groups were restricted during the year.  The new antiracism law 
criminalizes racist or anti-Semitic expression whether in 
public speech or in printed material.

Most broadcast media are government-funded (the exceptions are 
small-scale experimental programs), but enjoy editorial 
autonomy.  Foreign broadcasts are freely accessible.  Private 
press and publishing operate without government hindrance.

The Government fully respects academic freedom.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The only restriction on peaceful assembly and association is a 
requirement to obtain a permit from police before holding any 
public meeting.  The authorities routinely grant permits unless 
they have reason to believe a meeting would lead to violence.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

The Constitution provides for complete freedom of religion, and 
the authorities do not hamper the teaching or practice of any 
faith.  There is no single state church, but most cantons 
support one or another church out of public funds.  A taxpayer 
may opt out of contributing to church funding in any canton.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Under the Constitution and the law, citizens are free to travel 
in or outside the country, to emigrate, and to repatriate.

Switzerland has traditionally been a haven for refugees, but 
public concern over the high number of asylum seekers induced 
the Government to legislate emergency measures for swifter 
processing and, for rejected applicants, swifter expulsion; the 
Government promptly began implementing these measures, and in 
December it extended them through 1996.  Still, the Government 
continues to give asylum seekers orderly consideration.  It 
cooperates with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees and 
other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees.

Refugees whose applications are rejected are allowed to stay 
temporarily if their home country is torn by war or 
insurrection.  Through August (latest data), 1,165 rejected 
asylum seekers were deported to their country of origin.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Suffrage is universal for citizens over age 17, and balloting 
is secret.  Local, cantonal, and federal elections are free and 
are contested actively by a variety of parties.  Frequent use 
of initiative and referendum procedures provide additional 
means for popular involvement in the legislative process.

Women were disfranchised until 1971, but since then their 
participation in politics has unabatedly expanded.  Women 
occupy 41 of the 246 seats in the Parliament, 1 of the 7 in the 
Federal Council, and a record 9 in cantonal government 
executive bodies.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernment Investigation of Alleged Violations
           of Human Rights

Local human rights advocacy groups concern themselves almost 
exclusively with lobbying the Swiss and other governments about 
the human rights situation in other countries.  All major 
international human rights groups are active in Switzerland.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

     Women

Although the Constitution prohibits discrimination against 
women in the workplace, this problem persists, and the 
Government has only recently started to take effective action 
against it.  While in recent years significant numbers of women 
have entered traditionally male-dominated professions (such as 
medicine, law, and engineering), women generally do not receive 
equal pay for equal work; studies indicate women's earnings 
average 15 percent less than those of men.

Various laws continue to discriminate against women; however, 
in 1994 Parliament passed legislation improving the treatment 
of women regarding health insurance and government pensions.  
In addition, it began work on amending the Labor Law so as to 
abolish provisions that ban women (except in a few fields, such 
as nursing) from working at night or on Sundays.

In recent years policymakers have become more concerned about  
violence against women.  While there are no reliable data on 
this topic, indications are that a problem exists and that many 
cases go unreported.  The Federation of Women's Organizations 
and other groups have heightened public awareness of this 
issue.  Every city maintains a telephone hot-line, through 
which female victims of violence can obtain help and 
counseling, and shelters for battered wives.  Specialists, 
working with police, regularly interview women who report 
attacks.  The law prohibits wife beating and similar offenses, 
and a change in the Penal Code in 1992 explicitly made spousal 
rape a crime.  The authorities effectively enforce these laws.  
The Penal Code also criminalizes sexual exploitation and 
trafficking in women.

     Children

The Federal and cantonal governments, as well as organizations 
defending children's rights, in recent years have devoted 
considerable attention to possible abuses against children, 
sexual abuses in particular.  For convicted perpetrators of the 
latter, the law mandates imprisonment for up to 15 years.  In 
June the Government approved the 1988 U.N. Convention on the 
Rights of a Child, and transmitted the draft bill to Parliament 
for ratification, albeit with some formal reservations 
regarding the Convention's provisions for the rights of 
children to naturalization and the rights of seasonal workers 
to be accompanied by their families.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Italian and Romansch languages may not long thrive in 
Switzerland, according to members of those communities, if the 
Federal Government does not increase its limited funding for 
education and media in them.  The Federal Government regards 
preservation of languages as a responsibility of the cantons.

In a referendum in September, voters approved inclusion of an 
antiracism article in both the Penal and the Military Code.  
This article is the nation's first law that seeks to prevent 
racial, ethnic, or religious discrimination before it occurs.  
The law also ratifies the 1960 U.N. Convention against Racial 
Discrimination.

Reported attacks against foreigners were less frequent than in 
the 3 previous years--during the first 7 months of 1994 (latest 
data), 5 attacks were registered, a drop from 9 during the same 
period of 1993.  Officials effectively investigate racist 
attacks, and in most cases these lead to arrest and trial of 
the perpetrators.  Convictions carry a sentence of at least 1 
year in prison.

     People with Disabilities

The Government has not mandated that buildings, government 
services, or transportation facilities be made accessible to 
people with disabilities.  An umbrella organization actively 
lobbies on behalf of most associations defending the rights of 
the disabled; in 1994 it persuaded the Government to cease 
requiring disabled men to pay the tax imposed on men who have 
not accomplished their military duty.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

All workers, including foreigners, are free to associate, to 
join unions of their choice, and to select their own 
representatives.  The Government does not hamper the exercise 
of these rights.

Unions are independent of the Government and political 
parties.

The right to strike is legally recognized and freely 
exercised.  Strikes are infrequent, however; in 1994 there was 
only one.  The law prohibits retribution against strikers or 
their leaders.

Unions can and do freely affiliate with international 
organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

By law, workers have the right to organize and bargain 
collectively, and the law protects them from antiunion 
discrimination.  The Government fully respects these 
provisions.  Periodic negotiations between employer and worker 
organizations determine wages and other labor matters at the 
national and local levels.  Nonunion firms generally adopt the 
terms and conditions fixed in the unions' collective bargaining 
agreements.

There are no export processing zones.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

Although there is no specific constitutional or statutory ban 
on forced or compulsory labor, it does not occur.

     d.  Minimum Wage for Employment of Children

The minimum age for employment of children is 15 years.  
Children of age 13 or 14 may be employed in light duties for 
not more than 9 hours a week during the school year, and for 15 
hours otherwise.  Employment of youths between ages 15 and 20 
is strictly regulated; they cannot work at night, on Sundays, 
or under hazardous conditions.  The Federal Office for 
Industry, Trade, and Labor effectively enforces the law on 
working conditions.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

There is no national minimum wage.  The lowest wages fixed in 
collective bargaining agreements are generally adequate to 
provide a decent standard of living for workers and their 
families.

The Labor Act sets a maximum 45-hour workweek for both blue- 
and white-collar workers in industry, services, and retail 
trades, and a 50-hour workweek for all other workers.  The law 
requires a rest period during the workweek, and limits overtime 
to 120 hours annually.

The Labor Act and the Federal Code of Obligations extensively 
provide for protection of worker health and safety.  The 
Federal Office of Industry, Trades, and Labor rigorously 
enforces these provisions.  The Government is currently 
overhauling the 1948 Labor Law, in part to strengthen 
provisions for workers' health and safety.  A worker may opt 
out of a dangerous assignment, without penalty.
(###)

[end of document]

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