Head of state and government
Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf

Restrictive measures on access to asylum were adopted. Measures to limit the use of force during deportation were introduced.

Police and security forces

Allegations of ill-treatment by the police in the Canton of Geneva continued, including against minors, during or immediately after arrest. In October, the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture recommended introducing improved training and reinforcing existing safeguards to combat ill-treatment by police.

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Prison conditions

The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture urged that any traumatic injuries detected by medical inspections in places of detention in the Canton of Geneva be reported to an independent body empowered to conduct investigations. Further recommendations to all cantons included establishing suitable care facilities for individuals suffering from mental illnesses.

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Discrimination against ethnic and religious minorities and migrants continued in law and practice. Anti-discrimination legislation and redress mechanisms failed to meet international standards.

In March, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern over certain “popular initiatives” which target and stigmatize migrant communities in breach of international human rights standards. The ban on minarets, the outcome of a popular initiative, remained in force during 2012.

In March, the Council of States rejected a motion approved by the National Council in 2011 which sought to introduce a law prohibiting full-face veils.

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Refugees, asylum-seekers and migrants

In September, the right to claim asylum at Swiss embassies was suppressed. Parliament voted that conscientious objectors should no longer be granted refugee status, but a temporary residence permit instead.

In December, more than 10 restrictive measures were introduced into asylum law, such as excluding adult sons and daughters from family asylum and granting permanent residence to refugees only after 10 years and if they were deemed to have integrated successfully.

In March, the National Commission for the Prevention of Torture agreed to supervise the independent monitoring of forced deportations. Positive steps were taken to curb restraint measures during transportation to the airport, before and during boarding, and during the flight. In October, the Commission expressed concerns regarding the restrictive regime under which people detained for migration purposes were held.

In January, the criminal investigation into the death of Joseph Ndukaku Chiakwa, a Nigerian national who died at Zurich Airport during a mass deportation in March 2010, was closed. The appeal was still pending at the end of the year.

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Corporate accountability

In December, the government agreed to deliver a national strategy to implement the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to be applied to transnational companies with headquarters in Switzerland.

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Violence against women and girls

In June, legislative measures against forced marriage were introduced, enabling the annulment of any marriage concluded under duress. In September the government adopted a five-year programme to prevent forced marriages and domestic violence by reinforcing collaboration between schools, professionals and private consultation services.

In July, the Minister of Justice announced the creation of a national office for the protection of witnesses of human trafficking.

In October, the government adopted a National Action Plan on fighting human trafficking.

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Legal, constitutional or institutional developments

In December the Federal Council initiated consultation towards the ratification of the International Convention against enforced disappearance, and agreed to ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

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