Human rights head praises Switzerland

Dean Spielmann, president of the European Court of Human Rights, after speaking in the Swiss House of Representatives Keystone

Switzerland has been a “key player“ in the development of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), says Dean Spielmann, president of the European Court of Human Rights.

This content was published on December 9, 2014 minutes

Speaking in French, German and Italian to parliamentarians gathered in Bern’s House of Representatives on Tuesday, Spielmann praised Switzerland’s part in upholding human rights – describing the nation as a pioneer and citing the humanitarian tradition of the Red Cross.

“Your country is inextricably linked to the spiritual and moral values that unite the members of the Council of Europe,” said Spielmann, who also highlighted Switzerland’s “numerous and remarkable instruments of direct democracy”.

The head of the Strasbourg-based court emphasised that he was in Bern “as a friend, and not as a foreign judge”. But he did mention his court’s ruling that the Swiss statute of limitations for asbestos victims had been too strict.

“The decision triggered a positive echo among members of the Swiss population,” Spielmann said. However, he pointed out that it is uncommon for the court to rule against Switzerland. In 2013, the court rejected 97% of complaints against the nation.

“In less than 1% of the cases was a violation found,” said Spielmann, adding that these figures underline Switzerland’s pioneering role in the field of human rights. It has been 40 years since Switzerland ratified the ECHR.

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