In a report published today, the Council of Europe’s Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) calls on Switzerland to increase funding and human resources for counselling centres for victims of racism, to deal more effectively with discrimination and to promote integration.
ECRI notes that there have been numerous improvements since its last report in 2014: victims of racism have access to legal counselling and support in all cantons; the Integration Agenda provides for earlier and intensified integration of refugees and temporarily admitted persons; asylum seekers are allowed to work after three months; regularisation of well-integrated undocumented migrants living in the canton of Geneva; a three-year pilot project launched in Bern in 2016 gives children from itinerant families better access to education, etc.
Despite the progress achieved, some issues continue to give rise to concern.
There is still no general anti-discrimination legislation and no state support for LGBTI victims.
The report also notes that there has been a sharp rise in intolerant discourse against Muslims, particularly in the media. There is a shortage of places to stop for travelling Yenish and Sinti/Manouche and non-Swiss travelling Roma are increasingly excluded.
Lastly, institutional and structural racism continues to be a problem in the police. It manifests itself in racial profiling and identity checks targeting notably persons with itinerant ways of life and Black persons.
The report therefore makes 15 recommendations to the Swiss authorities. Within the next two years, ECRI will review the implementation of two of the recommendations, identified as priorities:
- Counselling Centres for Victims of Racism to be strengthened through increased funding and human resources;
- a regular residence status to be granted to persons who cannot be returned to their country of origin after a maximum of six years.
Other necessary measures include:
- the setting-up of an independent equality body with sufficient staff;
- the creation of a sufficient number of sites to meet the needs of travelling Yenish, Sinti/Manouche and Roma, in consultation with the communities concerned;
- training for the police on the issue of racial profiling and the setting-up of a body independent of the police and prosecution authorities, entrusted with the investigation of alleged cases of racial discrimination and misconduct by the police;
- protection of intersex children’s right to physical integrity and bodily autonomy and prohibition of medically unnecessary sex-“normalising” surgery and other treatments until such time as the child is able to participate in the decision.
The report was prepared following ECRI’s visit to Switzerland in early 2019 and takes account of developments up to 19 June 2019.