Switzerland opts for permanent human rights watchdog

The human rights watchdog will look to ensure the rights of the LGBT community, among other groups domestically. Copyright 2021 Keystone-sda. All Rights Reserved.

The Swiss parliament has voted for the creation of a national human rights institution to monitor the application of human rights domestically.

This content was published on September 14, 2021 - 16:02

The Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights will now be upgraded from a temporary pilot project, set up in 2011, to a permanent body.

The entity will research and inform on human rights, as well as advise on and raise awareness of issues. It will also promote cooperation and international dialogue. Work would, for example, include ensuring the rights of people with disabilities, children or people in the LGBT community.

It will have an advisory role rather than a binding voice on Swiss domestic policy.

Swiss foreign minister Ignazio Cassis said the watchdog would also enhance Switzerland’s standing globally by showing that the Alpine state practiced at home what it advises urges others to do abroad.

NGOs react

The move was welcomed by the non-governmental organisation Human Rights Switzerland, which is an umbrella body for several organisations working in this field.

But the NGO expressed disappointment that public funding of the new entity would be capped at CHF1 million ($1.08 million) a year.

“Human rights are not to be had for free. We therefore expect the Federal Council [Swiss government] to reconsider the budget and adequately finance the new institution,” said Michael Ineichen, head of advocacy at Amnesty International – which is a member of Human Rights Switzerland.

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