The federal attorney general in Bern oversees intercantonal and international crimes involving organized crime, offenses which are under federal jurisdiction.
Corruption and impunity were not problems. Judges and prosecutors are under the administrative oversight of the cantonal security departments and the Federal Department of Justice and Police but act independently. Police were generally effective. Both internal affairs bureaus and courts were effective in investigating allegations of police abuses. Police training is a cantonal responsibility, but some police training took place nationally in cooperation with NGOs. By law criminal suspects must be apprehended on the basis of warrants issued by a duly authorized official unless there is a specific and immediate danger to which the police must respond without waiting for a warrant.
In most cases a suspect may not be held longer than 24 hours before being presented to a prosecutor or investigating magistrate, who must bring formal charges or order the detainee's release; however, asylum seekers and other foreigners without valid documents may be held up to 96 hours without an arrest warrant.
There was a functioning bail system, and courts grant release on personal recognizance or bail unless the magistrate believes the person charged is dangerous or will not appear for trial. A suspect may be denied legal counsel at the time of detention but has the right to choose and contact an attorney before charges are brought. A court ruling established that suspects detained under federal law are not entitled to legal representation during their preliminary hearing with the federal police.
Suspects may invoke entitlement to legal counsel at a later stage when they are first interviewed by the investigative magistrate. The state provides free legal assistance for indigents who are charged with crimes for which imprisonment would be a possible penalty. Access to family members may be restricted to prevent tampering with evidence, but law enforcement authorities are required to inform close relatives of the detention promptly. AI and NGOs working with refugees complained that detained asylum seekers were often effectively denied proper legal representation in deportation cases because they lacked the financial means to obtain an attorney.
Free legal assistance was only provided in cases of serious criminal offenses the decision to deport an asylum seeker is an administrative procedure. Lengthy pretrial detention was a problem. Although investigations were generally prompt, investigative pretrial detention could exceed the length of sentence actually received. Any lengthy pretrial detention is subject to review by higher judicial authorities. The Federal Tribunal has ruled that pretrial detention must not exceed the length of the expected sentence for the crime a suspect is charged with. During the year approximately one third of all prisoners were in pretrial detention, and the average length of such detention was approximately 50 days.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence in practice. Local or cantonal courts are generally the courts of first instance. For criminal offenses that fall under the jurisdiction of federal authorities, the Federal Penal Court in Bellinzona is the court of first instance. Citizens have the right to appeal, ultimately to the Federal Tribunal supreme court. Lower and appellate courts are local or cantonal, and therefore both their administrative structures and procedures vary from canton to canton.
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The constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials were generally expeditious and public. Trials involving minor offenses are generally heard by a single judge, more serious or complex cases by a panel of judges, and the most serious cases including murder by a jury.
Defendants have the right to be present and to consult with an attorney in a timely manner, and an attorney is provided at public expense if defendants face serious criminal charges. Defendants have the right to confront or question witnesses and to present witnesses or evidence. Defendants enjoy a presumption of innocence and have the right to appeal, ultimately to the Federal Tribunal.
These rights were generally respected in practice. The military penal code MPC requires that war crimes or violations of the Geneva Convention be prosecuted only if the defendant has close ties with Switzerland. Normal civilian rules of evidence and procedure apply in military trials. The MPC allows the appeal of any case, ultimately to the military supreme court. In most cases the accused used defense attorneys assigned by the courts. Any licensed attorney may serve as a military defense counsel.
Under military law the government pays for defense costs. Civilians charged with revealing military secrets, such as classified military documents or classified military locations and installations, may be tried in military courts. The constitution prohibits such actions, and the government generally respected these prohibitions in practice.
The law provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and the government generally respected these rights in practice. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to ensure freedom of speech and of the press. The law penalizes public incitement to racial hatred or discrimination, spreading racist ideology, and denying crimes against humanity.
The law does not explicitly mention anti Semitism, Holocaust denial, or other specific events; however, there have been convictions under this legislation for anti-Semitism and denying the Holocaust. Judicial authorities in Vaud launched an investigation against Dogu Perincek, a Turkish politician, after he publicly denied, while in Switzerland, that genocide occurred against the Armenians in what is now Turkey.
No trial date was set by year's end. At the end of April, the ECHR criticized the government for violating freedom of expression in two separate cases involving journalists. In one case a domestic court fined a journalist for publishing excerpts from a confidential diplomatic document whose release resulted in the diplomat's resignation. In the other case, a journalist was fined for inducing a government official to release sensitive information.
In July, in a precedent setting move, authorities asked the Grand Chamber of the ECHR to review the ruling on the leaking of the diplomatic memo. The ECHR ruling rekindled the debate over a provision of the penal code that punishes with confinement or a fine any person who publishes confidential government documents or excerpts thereof without proper authorization. In May a district court in the canton of Aargau sentenced the founder and former president of the extreme right-wing Nationally Oriented Swiss Party PNOS to 14 days in prison and a fine for racial discrimination.
The party is generally hostile toward immigrants, religious minorities, and leftists. The former PNOS leader was accused of having published on the Internet a party program that violated the antiracism law. PNOS subsequently removed the program from its Web site. There were no government restrictions on access to the Internet or reports that the government monitored e-mail or Internet chatrooms.
Individuals and groups could engage in the peaceful expression of views via the Internet, including by electronic mail. Internet access was widely available and over two-thirds of the population used it regularly. The constitution provides for freedom of assembly and association, and the government generally respected these rights in practice.
The law provides for freedom of religion, and the government generally respected this right in practice. There is no official state church; however, most cantons provide financial support from tax revenues to at least one of three traditional denominations Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, or Protestant. Each of the 26 cantons has its own regulations regarding the relationship between church and state.
Foreign missionaries must obtain a religious worker visa to work in the country. Such permits were generally granted routinely. In the Federal Office of Migration FOM rejected the work permit applications for two Islamic clerics filed by the Islamic Center in Geneva, due to the extremist views of the center.
In October the justice ministry's appeals body upheld the FOM decision, thus setting a precedent for rejecting a work permit application for a Muslim imam on grounds of ideology. On May 10, the Federal Tribunal upheld the decision of authorities in the canton of Basel to reject the citizenship application of a Turkish national on the grounds that she lacked a desire to integrate into society.
The woman, who worked as a voluntary religious teacher, had appealed the rejection, claiming that it was due to her profession of Islam and her corresponding living habits. The Federal Tribunal concluded that the negative decision of the Basel authorities was neither discriminatory nor a violation of religious freedom rights, but rather a manifestation of the legal precept that individuals who voluntarily isolate themselves from the population should be denied citizenship; cantonal authorities found that she restricted her contacts to Muslims.
At the same time, it held that the appeal raised delicate questions and therefore decided to cover the legal costs of the indigent woman in spite of the negative ruling. Muslim organizations complained that it was nearly impossible to acquire zoning approval to build mosques or Muslim cemeteries, since authority for such approvals rested with individual counties and municipalities. In the canton of Solothurn a project to build a minaret stalled due to strong local opposition, and Muslim associations faced similar opposition to community building projects in Aargau and Bern.
There were two minarets in the country, at the Geneva and Zurich mosques. Religious instruction was a part of the curriculum in most public cantonal schools except in Geneva and Neuchatel. Most schools offered classes in Roman Catholic and Protestant doctrine, but some schools covered other religious groups living in the country.
A number of cantons complemented or entirely supplanted traditional classes in Christian doctrine with nonconfessional teachings about religion and culture. The law criminalizes racist or anti-Semitic expression, whether in public speech or in printed material. The Department of the Interior's Federal Service for the Combating of Racism sponsored a variety of educational and awareness building projects to combat racism, xenophobia, and anti Semitism see section 5.
In the view of several observers, the climate for members of religious minorities and their institutions continued to deteriorate during the year.
Physical violence was rare. Most manifestations of anti Semitic and anti Muslim feeling appeared to be fueled by extensive media coverage of the Israeli Arab conflict, the Holocaust assets issue, and terrorist acts by Muslim extremists in foreign countries. The Jewish population constitutes 0. There were numerous anti Semitic incidents during the year. During the night of March 31, unidentified vandals smashed several windows of the synagogue in Lausanne.
The Geneva-based Intercommunity Center for Coordination against anti-Semitism and Defamation CICAD denounced the attack and expressed concern over the series of anti-Semitic incidents occurring in the French speaking part of the country. There were no reports indicating whether authorities apprehended suspects in these cases. On July 21, a demonstration in Bern of Lebanese and pro-Palestinian organizations against Israeli military action in the July-August conflict involving Israel and Lebanon featured at least one Israeli flag festooned with a swastika; at this demonstration, Daniel Vischer, a Green party member of the Federal parliament, called on the government to end military procurement cooperation with Israel.
Also on July 31, according to information from the Stephen Roth Institute, not independently confirmed, unknown persons painted virulent anti-Semitic graffiti on walls in Zurich. Throughout the summer, CICAD tracked an increase in anti-Semitic rhetoric in the letters-to-the-editors pages of some big-circulation Francophone newspapers. In March there were two arson attacks in the city of Lugano in the southern canton of Ticino against the synagogue and a clothing store owned by a Jewish family. No one was hurt in either incident. In November a Ticino court gave a two-year prison sentence to a 58 year old resident Italian national with a mental condition, who confessed to the attacks.
The law prohibits anti-Semitic incitement and historical revisionism, including Holocaust denial see Section 2. Schools across the country honored Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27, for victims of the Holocaust. Education authorities stated that the aim was to remember the Holocaust and other forms of genocide committed in the past century and raise awareness of inhumane ideologies.
Unease over the growing Muslim population, extremist views preached by a number of Muslim clerics, and the international controversy over the Danish newspaper cartoons of the prophet Mohammed intensified public debate over the role of Muslim believers in society. Some employers prohibited the wearing of headscarves in the workplace.
For example, the second largest retailer announced that its dress code did not provide for any headgear and that it would not allow the wearing of the Islamic headscarf. For a more detailed discussion, see the International Religious Freedom Report. The constitution provides for these rights, and the government generally respected them in practice. The law provides for the granting of asylum or refugee status in accordance with the UN Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and its protocol, and the government has established a system for providing protection to refugees.
In practice the government provided protection against refoulement, the return of persons to a country where they feared persecution, although some NGOs were critical of the procedures used to establish "safe countries. The government also provided temporary protection to individuals who may not qualify as refugees under the convention and the protocol and provided it to approximately 25, persons during the year. The government cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and other humanitarian organizations in assisting refugees and asylum seekers.
Since asylum applicants have been required to present documentation verifying their identity, and since then authorities have been refusing to process the applications of asylum seekers who were unable to justify the lack of acceptable documents. Rejected asylum seekers generally were not removed from the country but instructed to leave voluntarily, except in cases where authorities incarcerated the rejected asylum seeker for a petty crime. On September 24, however, the electorate approved, by large majorities in a national referendum, a revision of the asylum law and a new law on foreigners that impose stricter identification requirements on asylum seekers and tighten treatment of rejected asylum seekers while providing increased benefits to persons with temporary protective status.
The changes, mostly scheduled to take effect on January 1, , provide that asylum seekers not presenting an official travel or identity document within 48 hours or credibly justifying their lack of documents or showing evidence of persecution are to be excluded from the asylum process. Authorities may detain uncooperative asylum seekers, subject to judicial review, for up to six months while adjudicating their applications.
- Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Switzerland;
- Les Scientiflics - Tome 1 (French Edition);
- Women in Antiquity: New Assessments.
- Zazen: The Way to Awakening;
- Official Reports.
- The Four Ancient Books of Wales.
The new procedures provide that applicants whose requests have been rejected may also be detained, for up to three months, to ensure their departure, or up to 18 months if repatriation poses special obstacles. There is a presumption of innocence, trials are public, and are free from undue delay. Switzerland presently lacks a nationwide Ombudsman or similar authority to review and respond to complaints. The policy requires asylum seekers to provide necessary documents or have a justifiable excuse for not having proper documentation, or risk not being granted asylum.
Emergency financial support may be gained by asylum seekers, and internal legislation, such as the Asylum Act, aligns Switzerland with the asylum requirements of the European Return Directive. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Council of States members National Council members Political parties. Voting Recent elections Federal: Jura Mountains Swiss Alps Swiss plateau.
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