Monday, 29. October 2012, Geneva.
Norway wishes to commend Switzerland for its strong commitment to improve the human rights standards in the country during the review period.
However, Norway is concerned with what Swiss NGOs have described as weak institutional guarantees against discrimination.
- We recommend that Switzerland adopt federal legislation in order to provide protection against all forms of discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity.
Although the political system in Switzerland is among the most democratic in the world, Switzerland does not have institutional guarantees against popular initiatives incompatible with international human rights standards. Both the Human Rights Committee and the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief have regretted the outcome of the vote on the initiative to prohibit construction of minarets in Switzerland, noting that a ban on minarets amounted to an undue restriction of the freedom to manifest one’s religion.
- Norway recommends that Switzerland put in place institutional guarantees to ensure that its human rights commitments are protected against popular initiatives that may violate these commitments.
Our last point refers to gender equality. According to UN reports there is an under-representation of women in decision-making positions in public office, political parties, the diplomatic service and the judiciary.
- Norway recommends Switzerland to take measures to increase the representation of women, including through temporary special measures.
1. The Swiss NGO Coalition for the UPR has expressed some concerns regarding the fact that corporal punishment of children is not explicitly banned by the Federal Law. The Federal Court has still declared repeated acts of violence as being incompatible with children’s rights. What measures are taken to ensure that these rights are not violated?
2. In 2009, the Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion or belief regretted the outcome of the vote on the initiative to prohibit the construction of minarets in Switzerland, noting that a ban on minarets amounted to an undue restriction of the freedom to manifest one’s religion. The Human Rights Committee made similar observations. Could you please elaborate on what measures Switzerland is taking to make sure that the Swiss federal- and cantonal laws are compatible with Switzerland’s international human rights commitments?
3. Reports indicate that legal protection against discrimination is fragmentary and that LGBT-persons have been subject to discrimination. Does the government of Switzerland plan to adopt federal legislation in order to provide protection against all forms of discrimination, including on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity? Could you please elaborate on measures that have been taken to address reported discrimination against LGBT?
4. Switzerland has given a great contribution to the shaping of the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. In our view it could be challenging to control that these guidelines are actually followed by TNCs operating on foreign locations. Is Switzerland planning to take any measures to ensure that human rights are respected by Swiss-based private- and governmental corporations?