Amnesty sees threat to human rights in Switzerland

Campaigners handing the signatures to the Federal Chancellery for a hardline deportation proposal, known as enforcement initiative, in 2012 Keystone

Amnesty International has again warned that human rights in Switzerland are increasingly threatened by rightwing proposals that undermine basic legal standards.

This content was published on February 24, 2016 minutes
Urs Geiser,

In its annual reportExternal link, published on Wednesday, the organisation says Switzerland is among 160 countries worldwide where institutions safeguarding human rights have come under pressure.

Manon Schick, director of the Swiss chapter of Amnesty International, said people’s initiatives seeking to put national legislation above international law jeopardise mechanisms created to protect individuals against attacks on human rights.

“They compromise hard-earned achievements by the international community over more than 70 years,” she said.

Hardline initiatives 

Schick singles out the hardline initiative to automatically deport foreign criminals, to be voted on next Sunday, and a proposal – also by the Swiss People’s Party – to give absolute priority to both Swiss law and decisions by voters over international accords.

Similar allegations were raised by the human rights organisation a year ago. 

Amnesty also criticised a parliamentary decision to boost the powers of the secret service. Leftwing parties and rights groups have forced a nationwide vote, possibly later this year.

In its report, the organisation points the finger at a perceived excessive use of force by police against asylum seekers as well as insufficient protection for victims of human trafficking and of domestic violence.

In line with a United Nations survey from last August, Amnesty called for legal amendments to the penal code to include torture.


Amnesty says many governments worldwide broke international law last year.

"Not only are our rights under threat, so are the laws and the system that protect them. More than 70 years of hard work and human progress lies at risk,” said Amnesty’s secretary general, Salil Shetty, at the organisation’s London headquarters.

He criticised that governments were ruthlessly vilifying the protection of human rights as a threat to security, law and order or “for so-called national values”.

Amnesty says 98 states were guilty of using torture or other inhumane methods, while another 30 countries were in breach of international law because they were sending refugees to countries where their lives are in danger.

Articles in this story

In compliance with the JTI standards

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

Contributions under this article have been turned off. You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here. Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

Share this story

Change your password

Do you really want to delete your profile?