Left Menu
Development News Edition

Switzerland: Draft anti-terrorism law sets ‘dangerous precedent’, rights experts warn

A proposed new anti-terrorism law in Switzerland could set a dangerous precedent for the suppression of political dissent worldwide, a group of five independent UN human rights experts warned on Friday.

UN News | Updated: 14-09-2020 08:55 IST | Created: 14-09-2020 08:40 IST
Switzerland: Draft anti-terrorism law sets ‘dangerous precedent’, rights experts warn
The rights experts had earlier written to the Swiss authorities, expressing their concerns about the incompatibility of the bill with human rights and international best practices in counter-terrorism. Image Credit: ANI

The draft legislation, currently before the Swiss Parliament, expands the definition of terrorism and no longer requires the prospect of any crime at all, they said, in a plea for a last-minute reversal by legislators.

'Expansive' definition of terrorism

Citing international standards, the experts defined terrorism as the intimidation or coercion of populations or governments through violence that causes death or serious injury, or the taking of hostages.

Under the bill, "terrorist activity" may encompass even lawful acts aimed at influencing or modifying the constitutional order, such as legitimate activities of journalists, civil society and political activists.

"Expanding the definition of terrorism to any non-violent campaign involving the spreading of fear goes far beyond current Swiss domestic law and violates international standards", said the experts, all of whom were appointed by the UN Human Rights Council.

"This excessively expansive definition sets a dangerous precedent and risks serving as a model for authoritarian governments seeking to suppress political dissent including through torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment."

Other sections of the draft law have also raised concerns, such as those giving the federal police extensive authority to designate "potential terrorists" and to decide preventive measures against them.

Expertise declined

The rights experts had earlier written to the Swiss authorities, expressing their concerns about the incompatibility of the bill with human rights and international best practices in counter-terrorism. However, no changes were implemented.

"While we recognize the serious security risks posed by terrorism, we very much regret that the Swiss authorities have declined this opportunity to benefit from our technical assistance and expertise on how to combine effective preventive measures with respect for human rights", they said.

The experts called on Swiss parliamentarians to keep in mind their country's traditionally strong commitment to human rights, urging them to reject a law which "is bound to become a serious stain on Switzerland's otherwise strong human rights legacy."

Role of UN Special Rapporteurs

The five experts are all UN Special Rapporteurs who are mandated to monitor specific country human rights situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world.

They are not UN staff, nor are they paid by the Organization.

Visit UN News for more.


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

New farm bills in India: Focusing on farms or farmers?

... ...

Kenya’s COVID-19 response: Chaos amid lack of information

Confusing numbers and scanty information on how effective curfews and lockdowns have been in breaking transmission have amplified coordination and planning challenges in Kenyas response to COVID-19. Without accurate data, it is impossible t...

Farkhad Akhmedov: Calculating the price of impunity from the law

In insistences such as the battle over the Luna, Akhmedov has resorted to extreme legal machinations to subvert the High Courts decision and keep his assets from being seized. ...

Guinea’s elections hearken back to the autocracy and violence of its past

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Death toll from floods, landslides in Vietnam reaches 130

Hanoi Vietnam, October 25 ANIXinhua The death toll from landslides, floods and other natural disasters triggered by downpours in Vietnams central and central highlands regions since early October has climbed to 130, with another 18 people m...

Germany agrees pay deal with public-sector unions

Germany struck a deal over pay with public-sector unions that will cover about 2.3 million workers employed by municipalities and the federal administration. The Verdi union and public employers said they had agreed an inverse sliding scale...

Philippines reports 2,223 new COVID-19 infections, 370,028 in total

Manila Philippines, October 25 ANIXinhua The Philippines Department of Health DOH on Sunday reported 2,223 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, bringing the total number in the country to 370,028.The DOH said 14,944 more patients reco...

WBBL: Sydney Thunder to take knee throughout entire tournament

Sydney Thunder have confirmed that the side would be taking the knee throughout the entire Womens Big Bash WBBL to show their support towards the Black Lives Matter movement. All teams have committed to perform the Indigenous Barefoot Circl...

Give Feedback