COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION
OF RACIAL DISCRMINATION
4-22 March 2002
REPORTS SUBMITTED BY STATES PARTIES UNDER ARTICLE 9 OF THE CONVENTION
Concluding observations of the Committee on the
Elimination of Racial Discrimination*
1. The Committee considered the second and third periodic reports
of Switzerland (CERD/C/351/Add.2), which were due on 29 December 1997
and 29 December 1999 respectively, as well as a supplementary report
at its 1495th and 1496th meetings (CERD/C/SR.1495 and 1496), held
on 4 and 5 March 2002. At its 1520th meeting (CERD/C/SR.1520), held
on 21 March 2002, it adopted the following concluding observations.
2. The Committee welcomes the detailed report submitted by the State
party, the contents of which fully correspond to the Committee's revised
reporting guidelines (CERD/C/70/Rev.5). The Committee appreciates
the detailed answers to concerns expressed and recommendations made
in its previous concluding observations, as well as the additional
substantial oral information provided by the delegation in response
to the questions asked. The Committee expresses its appreciation for
the frank and constructive dialogue with the representatives of the
B. Positive aspects
3. The Committee welcomes the progress made by the State party since
the consideration of its initial report (CERD/C/270/Add.1) in significantly
advancing the implementation of the provisions of the Convention.
In this context, it welcomes the fact that the New Federal Constitution,
which entered into force in January 2000, incorporates the principle
that all human beings are equal before the law (art. 8).
4. The Committee notes with satisfaction that a number of recent reforms
of cantonal constitutions have included provisions prohibiting discrimination.
5. The Committee also notes that the Convention forms an integral
part of the Swiss legal system, that some of its provisions may be
directly invoked before the courts and that the Federal Court has
referred to the provisions of the Convention on several occasions.
6. The Committee welcomes the information provided by the State party
on the number of cases dealt with by the courts under article 261
bis of the Penal Code, which penalizes public incitement to racial
hatred and discrimination and the spreading of racist ideas.
7. The Committee expresses satisfaction at the establishment of a
fund of 15 million Swiss francs aimed at financing projects to combat
racism, which include the creation of a nationwide network of advisory
centres for victims of racial discrimination. It further welcomes
the creation of a Service to Combat Racism aimed, inter alia, at coordinating
measures to combat racism, anti-Semitism, xenophobia and extremism
within the federal administration and the cantons.
C. Concerns and recommendations
8. The Committee wishes to emphasize that despite the federal structure
of the State party, which may render more difficult the full application
of the State party's obligations under the Convention in all parts
of its territory, the Federal Government has the responsibility of
ensuring the implementation of the Convention on its entire territory
and must ensure that cantonal authorities are aware of the rights
set out in the Convention and take the necessary measures in order
to respect them.
9. The persistence of hostile attitudes towards black people, Muslims
and asylum-seekers in Switzerland is of utmost concern to the Committee.
The Committee recommends that the State party continue its efforts
to prevent and combat such attitudes, including through information
campaigns and education of the general public. Further, in the light
of its general recommendation XIX, the Committee encourages the State
party to continue monitoring all tendencies which may give rise to
racial or ethnic segregation and endeavour to combat the negative
consequences of such tendencies.
10. The Committee is concerned at expressions of xenophobic and
racist attitudes in naturalization procedures, particularly those
to popular vote. It is also concerned that according to legislation
still in force decisions taken in accordance with such procedures
are not subject to legal review. The Committee is of the view that
the right to appeal against decisions, in particular arbitrary
discriminatory ones, in matters relating to naturalization has
to be made an integral part of the policy on naturalization, currently
in the process of being amended. Further, the State party should
to avoid statelessness, particularly of children, on its territory,
bearing in mind article 38 (3) of the new Federal Constitution,
stipulates that the Confederation "shall facilitate the naturalization
of stateless children".
11. While welcoming the position of the Federal Council according
to which segregated schooling would be contrary to the Federal Constitution,
the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the International Convention
on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, the Committee
expresses concern about recent moves towards the establishment of
separate classes for foreign pupils in some cantons. It is the view
of the Committee that segregated schooling may only in exceptional
circumstances be considered as being in conformity with article 2
in conjunction with article 5 (e) (v) of the Convention.
12. Allegations of police abuse and excessive use of force against
persons of foreign origin during arrest or in the course of deportations
are also of concern. The Committee notes that many cantons do not
have independent mechanisms for investigation of complaints regarding
violence and abuse by the police, and that sanctions against responsible
officers have been rare. The State party should ensure that independent
bodies with authority to investigate complaints against police officers
are established in all cantons. Efforts should also be made to recruit
members of minority groups into the police and to provide sensitization
and training of police officers on issues of racial discrimination.
13. While commending the important work undertaken by the Federal
Commission against Racism, the Committee notes that the Commission
has limited powers of action. The State party is invited to strengthen
the powers and means of the Federal Commission against Racism. The
present exercise to consider setting up a national human rights institution
should take note of the criteria for setting up such institutions
established by the General Assembly in its resolution 48/134 (the
14. Noting that the former "three-circle" immigration
policy of Switzerland which classified foreigners according to
of national origin and capacity for integration was abandoned and
replaced by a binary admissions system and in view of the dialogue
held with the Swiss delegation in this respect, the Committee invites
the State party to consider if the reservation to article 2 (1)
of the Convention is still necessary or may be withdrawn.
15. The Committee is also concerned about the situation of Travellers,
including Roma and Jenish, in Switzerland and hopes that efforts will
continue to be made to improve their living and working conditions.
16. The Committee requests information about the legislation in force
prohibiting racial discrimination within the private sector in fields
such as employment, housing, education, health and access to public
17. The Committee takes note of the proceedings under way at the level
of the executive organs with a view to formulating the optional declaration
provided for in article 14 of the Convention and encourages the State
party to complete these proceedings.
18. The Committee recommends that the State party take into account
the relevant parts of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action
when implementing the Convention in the domestic legal order, in particular
in respect of articles 2 to 7 of the Convention, and that it include
in its next periodic report information on action plans or other measures
they have taken to implement the Durban Declaration and Programme
of Action at national level.
19. The Committee recommends that the State party submit its fourth
periodic report jointly with its fifth periodic report, due on 29
December 2003, that it be an updating one and that it addresses all
points raised in the present observations.
* Please note that the symbol CERD/C/Session No./CO/... will from
now on replace the previous symbol CERD/C/304/Add...