Alert Bangladesh: Prominent defenders receive two-year prison sentences

Switzerland: Racism and use of violence against migrants

Des migrants bloqués à Côme après la fermeture de la frontière côté suisse, participant à un rassemblement pacifique pour réclamer la réouverture des frontières. © Shutterstock

At its 77th session on 12-13 July 2023, the CAT considered the 8th periodic report of Switzerland. The country’s rapporteurs were Mr. Todd Buchwald and Mr. Huawen Liu.

The country delegation was headed by Mr. Bernardo Stadelmann, the deputy director of the Federal Office of Justice of the Department of Justice and Police. He was accompanied by representatives from various ministries and Offices including the State Secretariate for Migration, the Federal Statistical Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Geneva Police

Main issues discussed:

The CAT was concerned about the lack of a definition of torture in the Criminal Code. The CAT’s experts defined it as a priority issue for Switzerland and asked that torture be made prosecutable and fully compliant with the definition in the Convention against Torture. Todd Buchwald reminded Switzerland that the CAT had already asked in previous reviews that torture be defined and criminalized. He stressed that without a definition, it is difficult to establish case law and public awareness of impunity, and it limits global efforts to eradicate torture.

Referring to CSO reports, the CAT experts further raised serious concerns about the treatment in and management of migration centers and the lack of medical examinations for asylum seekers. They also asked that the Manual on the Effective Investigation and Documentation of Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) be applied in asylum procedures. Other issues discussed in the context of migration were racism and the use of violence towards migrants, the lack of the investigations and the conditions of asylum seekers’ centres, and the lack of investigations into allegations of torture and ill-treatment. The CAT experts further called for a separate procedure for migrant children, stressing also the importance of family reunification.

With regards to detention, the CAT experts raised concerns about over-crowded facilities, including Champ-Dollon, and inter-prison violence. Moreover, they questioned whether the NPM's limited budget would be sufficient to monitor detention facilities effectively.

The state delegation declared they would conduct police trainings for repatriation flights and enact de-radicalization and suicide prevention programs in prisons.

The CAT's recommendations are available: here

Follow-up recommendations

The State party should provide information by 28 July 2024 on the implementation of the recommendations on:

  • integration of a definition of torture into domestic legislation (no later than 29 March 2024);
  • the effective and independent fulfilment of national preventive mechanism’s mandate;
  • an independent and universally accessible mechanism for filing complaints against the police;
  • data collection concerning torture and ill-treatment.

Watch here (part one) and here (part two link) the dialogue with the Committee.

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