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World : Europe : Switzerland
 
Switzerland

Originally inhabited by the Helvetians, or Helvetic Celts, the territory comprising modern Switzerland was conquered by Julius Caesar during the Gallic wars and made part of the Roman Empire. It remained a Roman province until the 4th century AD. Under Roman influence, the population reached a high level of civilization and enjoyed a flourishing commerce. Important cities, such as Geneva, Basel, and Zurich, were linked by military roads that also served as trade arteries between Rome and the northern tribes.

After the decline of the Roman Empire, Switzerland was invaded by Germanic tribes from the north and west. Some tribes, such as the Alemanni in central and northeastern Switzerland, and the Burgundians, who ruled western Switzerland, settled there. In 800, the country became part of Charlemagne's empire. It later passed under the dominion of the German emperors in the form of small ecclesiastic and temporal holdings subject to imperial sovereignty.

In 1291, representatives of the three forest cantons of Uri, Schwyz, and Unterwalden signed the Eternal Alliance. This united them in the struggle against "foreign" rule by the Hapsburgs, who then held the German imperial throne. At the battle of Morgarten in 1315, the Swiss defeated the Hapsburg army and secured quasi-independence within the German Empire as the Swiss Confederation.

Under the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648, European countries recognized Switzerland's independence from the Holy Roman Empire and its neutrality. In 1798, armies of the French Revolution conquered Switzerland. The Treaty of Vienna and the Second Peace of Paris in 1815 re-established Swiss independence, and the powers participating in the Congress of Vienna agreed to recognize Swiss permanent neutrality.

Switzerland adopted a federal constitution in 1848, modeled in part on the U.S. Constitution. The Swiss amended their Constitution extensively in 1874, establishing federal responsibility for defense, trade, and legal matters. Since then, continued political, economic, and social improvement has characterized Swiss history. The Swiss did not participate in either world war.

ECONOMY

Despite a dearth of natural resources, the Swiss economy is among the world's most advanced and prosperous. Per capita income is virtually the highest in the world, as are wages. During most of the 1990s, the Swiss economy was western Europe's weakest, with annual GDP growth averaging 0% between 1991 and 1997. The economic recovery, however, which began during the second half of 1997, has steadily gained momentum. The year 2000 registered the strongest GDP growth in a decade at 3.0% in real terms. Being so closely linked to the economies of western Europe and the United States, Switzerland has not been able to escape the slowdown being experienced in these countries. In 2001 the rate of growth has fallen from the highs experienced the previous year, and the economy was expected to grow by about 1.6%. Economic growth is expected to be around 2.0% for 2002--the rate most economists see as the economy's average long-term growth potential.

The economic stagnation experienced from 1991 to 1997 had a major impact on the labor market. Over this period, 255,000 jobs (aggregated as full-time job equivalents) were lost. To the surprise of most forecasters, however, the unemployment situation improved dramatically from a rate of 5.7% in February 1997 (the highest in decades) to 1.6% in June 2001. Since then unemployment has slightly increased to 2.6% in January 2002.

Trade has been the key to prosperity in Switzerland. The country is dependent upon export markets to generate income while dependent upon imports for raw materials and to expand the range of goods and services available in the country. Switzerland has liberal trade and investment policies and a conservative fiscal policy. The Swiss legal system is highly developed, commercial law is well-defined, and solid laws and policies protect investments. The Swiss franc is one of the world's soundest currencies, and the country is known for its high standard of banking and financial services.

A highly skilled, motivated work force, laws promoting labor flexibility, and collective bargaining agreements between trade unions and employers' associations have meant very little labor unrest. The machinery, metals, electronics, and chemicals sectors are world-renowned for precision and quality. Together they account for well over half of Swiss export revenues. In agriculture, Switzerland is about 60% self-sufficient and imports about $5 billion of agricultural products annually. Swiss farmers are one of the most highly protected and subsidized producer group in the world. The U.S. share of the Swiss agricultural import market is currently quite small, but the steady application of World Trade Organizations rules should gradually improve the situation.

Tourism, banking, engineering, and insurance are significant sectors of the economy and heavily influence the country's economic policies. Swiss trading companies have unique marketing expertise in many parts of the world, including eastern Europe, the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East. Not only does Switzerland have a highly developed tourism infrastructure (making it a good market for tourism-related equipment and services), the Swiss also are intrepid travelers themselves. On a per capita basis, more tourists visit the United States from Switzerland than from any other country. Tourism is the most important U.S. export to Switzerland (earnings almost $2 billion). In 2000, more than 400,000 Swiss went to the United States--and for the majority it was not their first visit.

According to the Swiss National Bank (SNB), Switzerland's current account surplus increased by $4.4 billion to $31.2 billion in 2000 (7.4 billion to 52.4 billion Swiss francs), equivalent to 12.9% of GDP--the highest such percentage among OECD countries. This represents a 16.5% increase over 1999's figure of $26.8 billion (45.0 billion Swiss francs), or 11.6% of GDP. In value terms, exports of goods rose by 10.6% and imports by 13.4%. The balance of trade showed a modest deficit of $1.25 billion (2.1 billion Swiss francs). The surplus from services increased by $1.7 billion to $13.5 billion (2.8 billion to 22.6 billion Swiss francs). Investment earnings from abroad rose by $5.2 billion to $28.0 billion (8.8 billion to 47.1 billion Swiss francs), due to improved net earnings on both portfolio and foreign direct investments.

The European Union (EU) is Switzerland's largest trading partner, and economic and trade barriers between them are minimal. In the wake of the Swiss voters' rejection of the European Economic Area Agreement in 1992, the Swiss Government set its sights on negotiating bilateral sectoral agreements with the EU. After more than 4 years of negotiations, an agreement covering seven sectors (research, public procurement, technical barriers to trade, agriculture, civil aviation, land transport, and the free movement of persons) was achieved at the end of 1998. Parliament officially endorsed the so-called "Bilaterals" in 1999, and the Swiss people approved them in a referendum in May 2000. The agreements, which had to be ratified by the European Parliament as well as legislatures in all 15 EU member states, are expected to come into force in the first half of 2002.

Switzerland has so far attempted to mitigate possible adverse effects of non-membership by conforming many of its regulations, standards, and practices to EU directives and norms. The Swiss Government has embarked on a second round of bilateral negotiations with the EU (known as Bilaterals II). Talks on the four dossiers of customs fraud, environment, statistics, and trade in processed agricultural products started in July 2001. Negotiations on the liberalization of services, pensions, student and youth exchange programs, media, the taxation of savings as well as police and judicial cooperation (under the Schengen and Dublin accords) are yet to begin. While most issues are not really contentious, talks on customs fraud are moving slowly. Police and judicial cooperation and the taxation of savings are controversial, mostly because of possible adverse effects on Swiss bank secrecy. Switzerland refuses to open negotiations on a tax on savings as long as the EU has not yet framed its mandate for negotiations for all 10 dossiers.

The Swiss federal government has declared EU membership as its long-term goal, but in a March 2001 referendum over 70% of voters rejected rapid steps toward EU membership. The issue of EU-membership is therefore likely to be shelved for several years. The government also formally declared that it wants Switzerland to join the United Nations. A popular initiative on UN membership, which the government endorses, will be voted on March 3, 2002.

In 2000 U.S. bilateral trade with Switzerland increased again (up 10% over 1999), surpassing $20 billion for the first time. The resurgent Swiss economy combined with the excellent reputation U.S. products and services enjoy in Switzerland suggests that 2001 will be a period of exceptional opportunities for American companies in this market.

The United States is the second-largest importer of Swiss goods after Germany. America, on the other hand, exports more to Switzerland each year than to all the countries of the former Soviet Union and eastern Europe combined. In addition, the United States is the largest foreign investor in Switzerland, and conversely, the primary destination of Swiss foreign investment. Some 200,000 American jobs, it is estimated, depend on Swiss foreign investments.

Switzerland is a member of a number of international economic organizations, including the WTO, the IMF, the World Bank, and the OECD.

 

BELIEFS

The Constitution provides for freedom of religion, and the Government generally respects this right in practice.

There is no single state church, but all cantons support with public funds at least one of the three traditional denominations--Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, or Protestant. In all cantons, an individual may choose not to contribute to church funding. However, in some cantons, private companies are unable to avoid payment of the church tax. A religious organization must register with the Government in order to receive tax-exempt status. There have been no reports of a religious group applying for the "church taxation" status that the traditional three denominations enjoy.

Foreign groups are free to proselytize; however, foreign missionaries must obtain a "religious worker" visa to work in the country. Requirements include proof that the foreigner would not displace a citizen from doing the job, that the foreigner would be financially supported by the host organization, and that the country of origin of religious workers also grants visas to Swiss religious workers. Such permits are granted routinely and without any bias against any particular religion.

In December 2000, the Federal Department of Police published a followup report to a 1999 report by the Business Review Commission of the National Assembly regarding the need for state involvement in controlling "sects." The December 2000 report concluded that the activities of sects, including Scientology, had not increased significantly and that special monitoring of sects therefore was not justified.

In 1998 the city of Basel passed a law banning aggressive tactics for handing out pamphlets. This action was prompted by complaints about Scientologists' methods. In June 1999, the Scientologists lost an attempt in the Supreme Court to overturn a municipal law that barred persons from being approached on the street by those using "deceptive or dishonest methods." The Court ruled that the 1998 Basel law, which was prompted by efforts to curb Scientology, involved an intervention in religious freedom but did not infringe on it.

The city of Buchs, St. Gallen, also passed a law modeled on the Basel law. However, it remains permissible in Buchs to proselytize in nonintrusive ways, such as public speaking on the street or by going door-to-door in neighborhoods.

In Zurich in 1995, Scientologists appealed a city decision that prohibited them from distributing flyers on public property. In 1999 a court held that the Scientologists' activities were commercial and not religious, and that the city should grant them and other commercial enterprises, such as fast food restaurants, more freedom to distribute pamphlets on a permit basis. Fearing a heavy administrative and enforcement workload, the city appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court rejected the appeal in June 2000, affirming the decision by the lower court that the Scientologists' activities were commercial in nature and thus should be permitted. The Supreme Court decision was expected to establish a nationwide legal guideline on the issue; however, in June 2000, the Federal Council stated that there was no need for specific legislation on sects because the existing legislative framework was sufficient to preserve the population's best interests.

In Winterthur city authorities required Scientologists to apply for an annual permit to sell their books on public streets. The permit limits their activities to certain areas and certain days. The practice has been in effect since 1995, when a district court upheld fines levied on Scientologists by the city for accosting passersby to invite them onto their premises to sell them books and administer personality tests. The court ruled that the Scientologists' activities were primarily commercial, rather than religious, which required them to obtain an annual permit for the book sale on public property and prohibited them from distributing flyers or other advertising material. The Supreme Court ruling in the Zurich case was expected to set a precedent for this case as well.

In a June referendum, voters approved the repeal of a constitutional provision that prevented the Catholic Church from setting up new dioceses without the express consent of the Government. The repealed provision was introduced in 1874 a year after Pope Pius IX unsuccessfully attempted to set up a diocese in the Reformed (Protestant) city of Geneva.

In February both the Swiss Federal Office for Justice and the European Court of Human Rights agreed that a regulation barring Islamic primary school teachers from wearing their head scarves in the classroom did not violate the teachers' religious freedom. According to the decision, regulations restricting religious practices are permissible when they are set in law, are related to a legitimate objective, and are applied equally. The ECHR held that the prohibition achieved a legitimate end of maintaining a religiously neutral environment in which easily influenced children may be instructed impartially.

 

INCIDENCE OF CRIME

The crime rate in Switzerland is medium compared to other industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Switzerland. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Switzerland will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). Switzerland has submitted data to INTERPOL for year 2002, but Japan and USA data are from year 2001, since at this writing they have not yet submitted data for year 2002. According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 2002 was 2.91 per 100,000 population for Switzerland, 1.05 for Japan, and 5.61 for USA. For rape, the rate in 2002 was 6.61 for Switzerland, compared with 1.75 for Japan and 31.77 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 2002 was 33.40 for Switzerland, 5.02 for Japan, and 148.50 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 2002 was 83.64 for Switzerland, 26.68 for Japan, and 318.55 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 2002 was 830.80 for Switzerland, 238.59 for Japan, and 740.80 for USA. The rate of larceny for 2002 was 20.80 for Switzerland, 1550.41 for Japan, and 2484.64 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 2002 was 895.67 for Switzerland, compared with 49.71 for Japan and 430.64 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined in year 2002 was 1873.83 for Switzerland, compared with 1873.21 for Japan and 4160.51 for USA.

 

TRENDS IN CRIME

Between 1995 and 2002, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder increased from 2.29 to 2.91 per 100,000 population, an increase of 27.1%. The rate for rape increased from 4.26 to 6.61, an increase of 55.2%. The rate of robbery increased from 26.27 to 33.40, an increase of 27.1%. The rate for aggravated assault increased from 52.74 to 83.64, an increase of 58.6%. The rate for burglary decreased from 949.58 to 830.80, a decrease of 12.5% rate of larceny increased from 20.68 to 20.80, an increase of 0.6%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 1243.91 to 895.67, a decrease of 28%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 2299.73 to 1873.83, a decrease of 18.5%.

 

POLICE

The armed forces are a civilian-controlled militia based on universal military service for able-bodied males.  There is virtually no standing army apart from training cadres and a few essential headquarters staff.  Police duties are primarily a responsibility of the individual cantons, which have their own police forces that are under effective civilian control.  The National Police Authority has a coordinating role and relies on the cantons for actual law enforcement.  Members of the police committed some human rights abuses.

There were no reports of politically motivated killings committed by the Government or its agents. During the year, cantonal police shot and killed one person and were involved in the deaths of two others. The U.N. Human Rights Committee cited "instances of degrading treatment" in a November report, and "the excessive use of force during the expulsion of aliens, resulting on some occasions in death."

In May Samson Chukwu, a Nigerian deportee, died after being forcibly restrained while resisting deportation. According to an official investigation, his death was apparently the result of an unforeseeable "fatal chain of circumstances" that included the method by which he was subdued, his physical efforts to resist, and stress. Police claimed that they were forced to subdue Chukwu by cuffing his hands behind his back while he was prone on the floor. One police officer reportedly applied his weight on Chukwu's back. Charges against two policemen involved in the case were dismissed. Critics claim that police officers lack proper restraining techniques.

In July Bern police were videotaped using excessive force to subdue Cemal Gomec, a Turkish immigrant with mental problems who was threatening persons who approached him in his apartment with a knife. He died in a hospital 4 days after being subdued. The Bern forensic institute found that his death from cardiac arrest was not the sole result of the beating by police officers but rather a combination of several factors, including stress, and police use of sedatives, tear gas, other chemicals used during Gomec's apprehension, and chronic heart disease.

In August two police officers from Basel shot and killed Michael Hercouet just over the border in France. The unarmed Hercouet was trying to evade police arrest after stealing a car, and he allegedly attempted to run over the officers. No charges had been brought by year's end. In September an Algerian national facing deportation hanged himself in Chur.

In July, in the 1999 case of Khaled Abuzarifeh, another immigrant who died from suffocation while resisting deportation, a Zurich court handed down a 5-month suspended sentence to the doctor who administered the gag. In addition the court ordered the doctor to pay $30,000 (50,000 Swiss francs) in damages to the victim's family. Of the three policemen involved in the case, two were acquitted. The third was awaiting judgment at year's end.

On July 12, at the request of the U.N. chief prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda in Arusha, Tanzania, the Geneva police arrested a Rwandan priest, Emmanuel Rukundo, who was suspected of involvement in the 1994 genocide. Rukundo, a former army chaplain who had been working at a church in the Geneva area for a number of years was among indicted war crimes suspects apprehended in Switzerland, Belgium, and the Netherlands during a coordinated European-wide operation. He is accused of drawing up lists of Tutsis, which the Hutu-dominated military used to identify their victims. Rukundo was deported on September 20 to the U.N. International Criminal Tribunal in Arusha after the Federal Court rejected his appeal of extradition.

Fulgence Niyonteze, the former mayor of the Rwandan town of Mushubati, sought asylum in Switzerland in 1994 and was arrested in 1996. In May 1999, a military court convicted him of crimes committed during the 1994 genocide, including murder (taking part in the massacre of Tutsis), attempted murder, incitement to murder, and war crimes. He was sentenced to life imprisonment. Niyonteze was tried by a military tribunal because Swiss law stipulates that alleged war crimes and violations of the Geneva Conventions be tried by a military tribuna. In May 2000, a military appeal court heard Niyonteze's appeal of his sentence of life imprisonment. The court found Niyonteze guilty of war crimes and violations of the Geneva Conventions but dropped the first charges of murder and incitement to murder and declared that a military tribunal had no authority to try such offenses when committed abroad by a civilian. The military appeal court sentenced Niyonteze to 14 years in prison. Both the public prosecutor and Niyonteze filed appeals of the sentence, but in April the Military Supreme Court upheld the lower court's judgment.

The Constitution prohibits such practices; however, police occasionally used excessive force, particularly against foreigners.  In the Canton of Geneva, 33 of 715 reported cases of the use of force by police resulted in formal complaints.  However, in 1999-2000 only one police officer was convicted for excessive use of force in Geneva Canton.  In a November report, the U.N. Human Rights Committee "cited concern and called for effective responses to reported instances of police brutality during arrests and detentions, especially of foreigners."  A 1997 report by the U.N. Committee against Torture expressed concern about "frequent allegations of ill-treatment inflicted in the course of arrests and police custody." 

There were no significant developments, and none are likely, in the case of Brazilian national Luis Felipe Lourenco, whom prison guards allegedly beat in 1998.  Lourenco was paralyzed in all his limbs after the incident.  In April a reconstruction of the events took place in the Champ-Dollon prison in Geneva.  All interested parties, including independent experts, were supposed to provide a Geneva magistrate with any further evidence that could lead to a trial by the end of July.  The experts had not provided evidence of mistreatment by the deadline.
 
In the case of Clement Nwankwo, a Nigerian human rights monitor who accused the Geneva police of mistreatment during his arrest in 1997, the European Court of Human Rights unanimously denied Nwankwo's appeal in June on the grounds that there was no violation of his rights under the European Convention.
 

 

DETENTION

The Constitution prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the Government generally observes these prohibitions; however, some NGO's alleged that the authorities arbitrarily detained asylum seekers.

The cantons are responsible for handling most criminal matters, and procedures vary from canton to canton. In general a suspect may not be held longer than 48 hours without a warrant of arrest issued by an investigative magistrate; however, asylum seekers and foreigners without valid documents may be held for up to 96 hours without an arrest warrant. A suspect may be denied legal counsel at the time of detention but has the right to choose and contact an attorney by the time an arrest warrant is issued. The State provides free legal assistance for indigents who may be jailed pending trial. Investigations generally are prompt; however, in some cases investigative detention may exceed the length of sentence. Release on personal recognizance or bail is granted unless the magistrate believes the person is dangerous or will not appear for trial. Any lengthy detention is subject to review by higher judicial authorities. During the year, approximately one-third of all prisoners were in pretrial detention, and the average length of such detention was 52 days.

 

COURTS

The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision in practice.

All courts of first instance are local or cantonal courts. Citizens have the right to appeal, ultimately to the Supreme Court. Trials involving minor offenses are 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.

The 1967 revised Military Penal Code (MPC) requires that all war crimes or violations of the Geneva Convention be prosecuted and tried in Switzerland, notwithstanding where a crime was committed and whether the defendant is member of an army or a civilian. Normal civilian rules of evidence and procedure apply in military trials. The MPC allows the appeal of any case. The highest level of appeal is to the Military Supreme Court. In most cases the accused use defense attorneys assigned by the courts. Any licensed attorney may serve as a military defense counselor. Under military law, the Government pays for defense costs.

The Constitution provides for the right to a fair trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforces this right. Trials usually are expeditious. The Constitution provides for public trials, including the right to challenge and to present witnesses or evidence.

 

CORRECTIONS

Prison conditions generally meet international standards. Some non-governmental organizations (NGO's) have claimed that prisons were overcrowded, but the Government has taken measures to improve prison conditions and address overcrowding by expanding the number of detention facilities. The cantonal Government of Jura stated in November that it would investigate living conditions in its prison after the press reported that prison guards had abused inmates. Prisoners alleged that, besides insults and mistreatment, prison guards had encouraged some prisoners to commit suicide. The Penal Code requires that male and female prisoners be held separately and that juveniles be held separately from adults. Pretrial detainees also are held separately from convicted criminals.

The Government permits prison visits by independent human rights monitors. In February a delegation from the Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) carried out a routine, periodic visit that included visits to prisons.

 

WOMEN

Violence against women was a problem. According to a 1997 government-funded study on domestic violence, one-fifth of all women suffer at least once in their lifetimes from physical or sexual violence, and approximately 40 percent suffer from psychological or verbal abuse. A 1998 study estimates that over 100,000 cases of domestic violence occur each year. The law prohibits domestic violence but does not differentiate between acts of violence committed against men and women. Spousal rape is a crime. The difficulty in gathering information about the number of persons prosecuted, convicted, or otherwise punished for spousal abuse stems in part from the fact that legal cases are handled by each canton, and data often are not up-to-date. However, some cantonal or district police forces have specially trained units to deal with violence against women. A total of 321 men were prosecuted for 404 rape offenses involving 384 victims during 2000.

Victims of domestic violence may obtain help, counseling, and legal assistance from specialized government and NGO agencies or from nearly a dozen hot lines sponsored privately or by local, cantonal, and national authorities. A total of 812 women and 842 children took refuge in 13 women's shelters across the country during 2000. Those in charge of the shelters estimated that nearly as many women were denied access due to a lack of space and limited funding. The Federation of Women's Organizations and numerous other women's NGO's continued their activities to heighten public awareness of the problem of violence against women.

Working as a prostitute is legal only for Swiss citizens and legal resident aliens; prostitution by foreigners is illegal. The Penal Code criminalizes sexual exploitation and trafficking in women; however, trafficking in women remained a problem.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a problem. The law includes provisions aimed at eliminating sexual harassment and facilitating access to legal remedies for those who claim discrimination or harassment in the workplace. Although the Constitution prohibits all types of discrimination, and the law provides for equal rights, equal treatment, and equivalent wages for men and women, some laws continued to discriminate against women. A federal marriage law provides that in the event of a divorce, assets accumulated during the marriage will be divided equally; however, the Supreme Court ruled that the primary wage earner must be left with sufficient income to remain above the poverty level. Since the man is the primary wage earner in most marriages, when the income is too low to support both parties, it is usually the wife (and children) who are forced to survive on public assistance. Statistics from 1999 show that nearly 70 percent of women who did not work outside the home while married fell below the poverty line immediately after a divorce. Although mandated by a constitutional amendment in 1945, no federal law on maternity insurance exists.

Immigrant women who marry Swiss husbands but live in Switzerland for less than 5 years risk deportation if they divorce their spouse. The 5-year residency requirement may be reduced to 3 years under exceptional circumstances. NGO's argue that this prevents women with marital problems from being able to seek help--or leave their husbands--without serious consequences.

Varying police practices in different cantons sometimes take into consideration such factors as the country of origin, education, and income levels of the immigrant women. The women's purpose for being in the country officially is registered as "stay with spouse" until they receive their own long-term residency permits.

The law includes a general prohibition on gender-based discrimination and incorporates the principle of equal wages for equal work; however, professional differences between men and women are evident. Women less often occupy jobs with significant responsibilities, and women's professional stature overall is lower than men's. A 2000 study found that discriminatory behavior by employers accounts for 60 percent of the overall wage gap between men and women. The study, which compared wages for women and men in the private sector from 1994 to 1996, found that wages were on average 21.5 percent lower for women than for men with identical jobs and levels of education. In September a court in the Canton of Vaud awarded $12,000 (20,000 Swiss francs) in damages to Malica Skrijeli, a machine worker, after she successfully proved that her salary was between 30 and 40 percent lower than that of her male colleagues, despite holding an identical job. Individual cases of denial of equal pay for equal work are subject to the law. Women also are promoted less than men. In 1998, the latest year for which data was available, 25.3 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 61 were not in the work force (compared to 10 percent for men); women hold 82 percent of all part-time jobs. Only 38 percent of women hold managerial positions compared with 56.9 percent of men.

The law prohibits women from working during the 8 weeks after the birth of a child. Further measures also protect pregnant and breast-feeding women. For example, pregnant women are not allowed to work night shifts during the 8 weeks prior to giving birth. The law does not provide for compensation; however, 72 percent of working women have negotiated maternity benefits with their employers. In July 2000, a new proposal for paid maternity leave appeared in the Federal Council in alignment with the European Union standards. It called for 14 weeks of paid maternity leave and asked employers for full pay during the first 8 weeks in order to be consistent with the law prohibiting women from working in the first 8 weeks after birth. The Council of States--the upper house of Parliament--followed the lead of the Federal Council in December 2000 and required the Federal Government to develop a new maternity benefits scheme in line with the July 2000 proposal. In June the Federal Department of Justice submitted for discussion a draft bill on the financing of maternity leave through a mixture of public and private funding to various civic organizations, but it referred the matter back to the Parliament in November when consultations were unable to reach a consensus. Beginning in July, women in the Canton of Geneva were provided paid maternity leave. In 2000 the cantonal parliament also passed legislation providing for 16 weeks of leave following a birth at 80 percent of salary for all women who had previously worked in the canton for a minimum of 3 months; Federal authorities approved this law in January.

The Federal Office for Equality Between Women and Men and the Federal Commission on Women work to eliminate all forms of direct and indirect discrimination. In 1999 a federal level interdepartmental working group issued an action plan to improve the situation of women following Switzerland's commitments at the 1995 U.N. Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women. The plan includes measures that address poverty, decision-making, education, health, violence against women, the economy, human rights, the media, and the environment. For example, the plan calls for financial support for childcare facilities at colleges and universities to enable a larger number of women to obtain a higher education; continued education and support for specialists in the area of addiction prevention for women; and ongoing analysis and data collection on the issue of wage differences between men and women. To achieve its mission, the Federal Office for Equality Between Men and Women was allocated a budget of $3.25 million (5.54 million Swiss francs) for the year 2000; the office employs 13 persons. Parliament directed the Federal Council to report on progress made by the end of 2002.

Many cantons and some large cities have "equality services" mandated to handle gender issues. More than half of the cantons have an office in charge of promoting equality, but funding and personnel levels remain uneven. The majority of the cantons have commissions that report to the cantonal government.

 

CHILDREN

The Government has no special programs for children, and there is no special governmental office for children's matters; nevertheless, the Government is strongly committed to children's rights and welfare. It amply funds a system of public education and need-based subsidies of health insurance. Education is free and compulsory for 9 years, from age 6 or 7 through age 16 or 17, depending on the canton. Some cantons offer a 10th school year. Almost all children attend school. The Government subsidizes the health insurance premiums of low-income families.

There is no societal pattern of abuse of children, although it does occur. The federal and cantonal governments, as well as about 80 NGO's that defend children's rights, have devoted considerable attention in the last few years to child abuse, especially sexual abuse. For convicted child sexual abusers, the law provides for imprisonment of up to 15 years. The statute of limitations in cases of child abuse is 10 years. In cases of severe sexual abuse, the statute takes effect only when the victim turns 18.

Two cases of child abuse were reported widely during the year. In August 2000, a 4-year-old girl died in the Canton of Zurich as a result of violence and hunger inflicted by her adoptive mother. While the mother was found guilty and sentenced to 51/2 years in prison and a psychiatric follow-up, the Government failed to prove that the family doctor and three administrative personnel had misjudged the situation and ignored details such as bruises on the child's body. In May a 16-month-old girl died from starvation in Geneva after her mother was jailed and left her in their apartment. The mother's jail term was extended by another 3 months for abandonment and negligent homicide. Social and youth protection services were also under scrutiny for failing to check on the child's whereabouts and for not confirming that someone was taking care of her.

In September the Zurich district court in Horgen sentenced a former policeman to a 30-month suspended sentence after he was convicted of several sexual offenses committed against minors since 1994. The court recognized that the former policeman required psychological counseling but emphasized that the sentence would be carried out should the officer commit additional offenses.

To combat child pornography on the Internet, the Federal Office for Police provides an Internet monitoring service on its World Wide Web page. Individuals who find pornographic material involving children are asked to contact the Federal Office via e-mail. The production, possession, distribution, or showing of hard pornography are crimes punishable with fines or prison sentences. Any pornography involving children falls into this category. In March 1999, an NGO published the first compilation of cases of child pornography and prostitution in the country. The study cited 60 cases: most of the victims were girls between 13 and 17 years of age.

With respect to the prosecution of child sexual abuse abroad, the law provides for prosecution in Switzerland only if the act is considered a crime in the country in which it took place. Experts have proposed making such acts punishable in Switzerland regardless of where the crime took place, but there was no legislative action on the problem during the year.

Children of migrant seasonal workers are not permitted automatically to join their parents. Children of foreigners working as migrant laborers only are permitted to visit on tourist visas for a period of 3 months at a time. After 3 months, they must return to their home country for 1 month.

 

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

The Penal Code criminalizes sexual exploitation and trafficking in persons; however, trafficking in women for prostitution increased. The country is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit location. According to authorities, most persons trafficked in 2000 originated in Thailand, parts of Africa, or South America. An increasing number of trafficked women arrived in every canton from Eastern Europe, particularly Hungary, Russia, Ukraine, or other states of the former Soviet Union. A large number of women were trafficked from the Dominican Republic, Brazil, and Columbia (to Zurich and Ticino), and parts of Africa and Thailand (to Bern and Basel).

Traffickers often forced many victims into prostitution, and in many cases subjected them to physical and sexual violence, threatened them or their families, encouraged drug addiction, withheld their documents, and incarcerated them. Many victims were forced to work in salons or clubs to pay for the cost of their travel and forged documents and found themselves dependent on the traffickers. Generally the victims were unable read, write, or speak the country's languages, and were afraid to seek help from the authorities.

Trafficking in persons may result in prison sentence of up to 5 years; coercing a person into prostitution or restricting a prostitute's personal freedom can carry a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. On April 9, the Criminal Court of Lausanne sentenced a 38-year-old Nigerian to 9 years in prison after he was found guilty of trafficking in women across Europe and of money laundering. The court found that the trafficker was not member of any specific criminal organization despite his having worked closely with his mother and sister, who lived in Nigeria. In March 2000, Neuchatel cantonal police arrested four persons, including two African women married to Swiss nationals, on trafficking-related charges.

Since 1905 the Government has had an office to combat the trafficking of girls for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Over the years this office has evolved to include all forms of trafficking in persons. The office has existed in its present form since 1998 as part of the criminal intelligence unit of the Federal Department of Police. In order to confront modern forms of trafficking in women, especially via the Internet, the Federal police have increased the number of their agents since 1999. In 1998 the Government institutionalized an exchange of information on trafficking in persons with NGO's. The Department of Foreign Affairs helps fund programs intended to combat trafficking from Eastern Europe. In major cases, the Federal government establishes contacts with foreign government authorities. In March 1999, the Government introduced new visa requirements for applicants from four South American countries--Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador, and Bolivia. The Office for Equality between Men and Women operates a program to educate visa applicants in their native countries about the methods used by traffickers and the dangers of falling victim to them.

Because the investigation, enforcement, and prosecution of individual trafficking and related cases is the responsibility of the cantonal police authorities, the federal human trafficking office also supports the cantonal prosecution authorities with information concerning trafficking abroad.

In 2000 a Zurich-based NGO submitted a petition to the Federal Council and both houses of Parliament that called for the establishment of a protection program for trafficking victims, which would end the automatic expulsion of women arrested for illegal prostitution and legalize their stay for the duration of investigations and trials. Most women normally are expelled within 96 hours. The program also would provide shelter, protection from intimidation, counseling centers, and sensitivity training for police. The petition also called for a change in the legal definition of trafficking to include not only women forced into prostitution but also women whose migration to Switzerland for marriage or domestic work forces them into a state of dependency. Approximately 7,500 individuals, organizations, and parliamentarians signed the petition. Parallel to the submission of the petition, a parliamentary initiative called for similar measures. However, neither initiative had been implemented by year's end.

In response to the petition and the parliamentary initiative, in June 2000, the Federal Council adopted a motion calling for extended protection for all female victims of trafficking and, in particular, for a new definition under criminal law that would include all activities linked to trafficking in women. The Federal Council charged the Federal Department of Justice and Police with setting up an interdepartmental working group to assess whether the Penal Code required amendment, to determine what measures should be taken to better protect the victims of female trade, and to determine whether it was necessary to create additional consultation centers. A report was submitted to the Federal Council in late 2002.

In general persons responsible for trafficking may not be prosecuted unless the victims are willing to testify. However, very few victims are willing to testify because they fear retaliation or are concerned that they will be forced to leave the country because they are illegal immigrants. A motion adopted by the lower house of Parliament would require that foreign victims receive an extended residency permit to allow them to remain in the country to assist in the trial. Cantonal authorities already allegedly grant a residency permit on a case-by-case basis, but a legal framework providing this right had not been established.

A number of government-funded NGO's provide services to victims of trafficking. The organizations provide information and counseling, and in some cases, emergency assistance. Some cantons assist repatriated nationals, for example, by arranging escorts, ensuring that victims are met at the airport, and organizing meetings with victims' families.

 

DRUG TRAFFICKING

Like other European countries, Switzerland has a significant problem with illicit drug use. The government continues to evaluate, refine and consolidate its four-pillar counternarcotics policy focusing on prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. Voters rejected two popular initiatives that would have significantly changed this policy, thus indicating that a national majority in support of this four-pillar policy has emerged. The Swiss Government plans to continue its heroin prescription program as a therapy form for hard-core addicts. Switzerland remains an important drug transit country and a target for money laundering operations. However, more effective legislation and vigorous law enforcement are making it more difficult to launder money and have led to significant seizures of drug-related assets. The Swiss government has signed and is expected to ratify the 1988 UN Drug Convention with reservations in the near future.

The Swiss government faces a serious illicit drug problem. On a per capita basis, Switzerland has an unusually large number of drug addicts--roughly 30,000 out of a total population of 7.1 million. Most of these individuals are users of heroin and/or cocaine. Marijuana consumption continues to increase while the abuse of ecstasy has decreased slightly.

Switzerland is a prominent producer of legitimate pharmaceutical drugs. The Swiss government has an effective precursor chemical regime in place and adheres to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances.

Switzerland has long been an attractive target for money laundering due to the discretion of Swiss financial institutions, the absence of currency controls, and the strength of the Swiss franc. However, by enforcing comprehensive legislation, Swiss authorities are making inroads against money laundering and seizing significant drug-related assets.

In light of increasing drug-related problems, Switzerland intensified its counternarcotics efforts in 1991 with a new policy initiative based on four pillars: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. Following rejection of two popular initiatives, a national majority in support of this drug policy has emerged and Switzerland continues to evaluate, refine and consolidate this comprehensive program.

On April 1, 1998 the Swiss government enacted an additional law to combat money laundering. It extends the obligation to report suspicious transactions to non-banking financial institutions. The Swiss government has also set up a Money Laundering Reporting Office.

Switzerland has a federal system of government and the 26 cantons (states) are responsible for implementing drug policy and for prosecuting narcotics and money laundering offenses as well as organized crime. As a first step to better coordinate strategies and initiatives among cantons and between the police and health and welfare agencies, the Swiss government has established a National Drug Committee.

The Council of States (upper house) has also passed a bill to make prosecution of organized and white-collar crime more efficient and effective. The National Council (lower house) is also expected to approve the bill.

Even though the drug addict population in other European countries is growing, Switzerland has been able to stabilize the size of its addict population. Through therapy and treatment programs, the physical and mental well being of addicts has improved and criminality has been reduced. Swiss officials credit needle exchange programs with reducing drug-related AIDS and hepatitis infections. Drug-related mortality has declined. The open drug scenes have been virtually eliminated.

Swiss policy is heavily weighted toward law enforcement and the Swiss devote considerable resources to the war on drugs. In 1989, the Swiss had only seven staff positions in the Central Office to Combat Drug-related and Organized Crime. Today, the staff numbers 90 and further expansion is planned. To improve efficiency, Switzerland is also expanding the jurisdiction of the federal government and has set up a National Drug Committee and a Money Laundering Reporting Office.

During the past few years, about 250 cannabis or "hemp" shops have sprung up throughout Switzerland. They sell a variety of cannabis products: tea, oil, paper, textiles and so-called sachets. Supposedly sold to freshen-up closets and drawers, the sachets contain good quality marijuana suitable for smoking.

In a landmark case in October 1998, a Zurich court sentenced a "hemp" shop owner to a $14,500 fine and forfeiture of his profits. He was also given a 14-month suspended jail sentence. The shop owner has appealed the decision. If the decision is upheld, it could lead to the closure of the "hemp" shops.

Although there have been instances in which public officials were allegedly involved in corruption related to narcotics trafficking, such cases are very rare.

On September 10, 1997, a new U.S.-Swiss Extradition Treaty came into force. This Treaty simplifies extradition proceedings and permits extradition for any unlawful act punishable by imprisonment in both countries.

Switzerland has been re-elected to the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs (CND). It supports the UN Drug Control Program (UNDCP) and is a major donor to the UNDCP Fund. Switzerland works closely with the UN International Narcotics Board (INCB), the World Health Organization (WHO), UNESCO as well as with the Council of Europe's Pompidou Group.

Switzerland plans to ratify the 1988 UN Drug Convention with reservations in the near future and has already adopted legal instruments that allow it to implement the most important provisions of the convention.

Switzerland has been a party to the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances since 1996. The government intends to conform national law to the Chemical Action Task Force (CATF) recommendations and new European Union regulations.

While Switzerland is not a significant producer of narcotics, local marijuana cultivation apparently meets domestic demand and Switzerland has become a modest exporter of hashish.

According to the Swiss narcotics law, cannabis cultivation is legal if the harvest is not destined for narcotics production. Cannabis farmers are even subsidized by the government as long as their plants contain less than 0.3 percent THC. About 300 tons of cannabis are cultivated annually and cannabis products have become a million franc industry. Figures on the extent of illegal cultivation are not available. However, police acknowledge that they had underestimated the seriousness of the problem.

Switzerland is an important connecting point for flights from Asia, the Middle East and Africa and attracts drug traffickers from these regions. Most of the drugs are bound for other European countries, although some is consumed in Switzerland.

Since 1991, Switzerland's counternarcotics efforts have been based on four pillars: prevention, treatment, harm reduction and law enforcement. A national majority in support of this policy has emerged and Switzerland continues to refine and consolidate this program.

Switzerland focuses heavily on prevention and early intervention to keep occasional users from developing an addiction. It spends $22 - 25.5 million annually on programs aimed primarily at the young that seek to encourage abstinence from drug use and an overall healthy lifestyle. Switzerland has always been at the forefront of new developments in treatment and rehabilitation programs. It has over 100 public and private institutions that provide drug therapy. With a budget of $160.6 - 190 million, it has the capacity to provide therapy to two-thirds of its approximately 30,000 addicts.

An official assessment of the heroin prescription program cites significant improvements in the social and health conditions of the hard-core addicts and a significant reduction in criminality. In light of this assessment, the Swiss Parliament passed a Federal Decree valid until 2004 that provides a legal basis for continuation of the program. It is estimated that about 10 percent of the addict population fulfill the eligibility criteria for acceptance into the program.

The Executive Director of UNDCP reportedly confirmed during a visit to Switzerland in February 1998 that the Heroin Prescription Program is consistent with UN principles. A WHO assessment is underway. However, on July 15, 1998 ONDCP Director Barry McCaffrey visited Switzerland to meet with officials responsible for narcotics policy and to see firsthand the heroin distribution program. General McCaffrey made clear our concern about this program, noting that while such policies may bring short-term benefits, they may in the long run prove detrimental to the well-being of Swiss society. He urged Swiss officials to allow full international scientific scrutiny of the heroin program.

Regarding harm reduction, Switzerland was among the first countries to adopt a needle exchange program to combat the spread of the HIV virus. The Swiss Federal Government supports an extensive needle distribution program involving injection rooms, pharmacies, needle exchange buses and public needle dispensers. Swiss officials credit this program and other housing and employment programs with reducing the prevalence of HIV and hepatitis among Swiss drug addicts. Switzerland earmarks $88 to 146 million annually for harm reduction.

U.S. officials continue to receive excellent cooperation from their Swiss counterparts in legal and law enforcement efforts to counter narcotics trafficking and money laundering. In particular, there have been several successful cooperative operations against money laundering in which the Swiss have seized bank accounts and shared the assets with the USG.

We want to build on our solid foundation of law enforcement cooperation in the fight against narcotics trafficking and money laundering. We will encourage the Swiss Government to ratify as soon as possible the 1988 UN Drug Convention and fully implement its provisions.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Internet research assisted by Gerralynn Owen

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