July 24, 2024

Columbus Post

Complete News World

Federalism is a problem – Amnesty: Right to protest under duress – Switzerland too – News

Federalism is a problem – Amnesty: Right to protest under duress – Switzerland too – News

  • Human rights organization Amnesty International has released a report on the state of the right to protest in 21 European countries.
  • Amnesty sees restrictions on freedom of assembly in many European countries.
  • Action is also needed in Switzerland.
  • The NGO criticizes the authorization requirement for small rallies, a patchwork of federal rules and the tendency to pass costs on to organizers of demonstrations.

Amnesty’s study paints a picture of a Europe-wide attack on the right to protest, the charity says. Police violence is a problem in many countries. In addition, peaceful protesters were denigrated as “terrorists” or “foreign agents”. Eleven countries already use facial recognition systems, which amounts to arbitrary mass surveillance.


In Europe and Switzerland, peaceful protest is systematically controlled and repressed.

Keystone/Archive/Ennio Lensa

The organization noted that some complex legal provisions also apply in Switzerland. The report specifically highlights conflicts between Swiss law and practice and obligations under international law. These give states the responsibility to respect, protect and facilitate peaceful assembly. Obstacles to demonstrations should be removed and unreasonable interference with the exercise of the right to peaceful assembly should be avoided.

Assessment by domestic author Matthias Strasser

Open the box
Box zuklappen

Domestic author Matthias Strasser says those who want to prove it can be difficult to prove that there is a “patchwork quilt” of different rules across Switzerland. But it does not restrict freedom of assembly. This also applies to the second point of criticism: smaller rallies also require approval. “The most important thing is that they’re approved. That’s usually the case — albeit with some conditions,” says Strasser. The unauthorized demonstrations over the Middle East conflict last fall were an exception. Many cities have banned it outright, “sometimes with questionable reasons”.

Strasser continues: “But Tinder is primarily concerned with a third criticism, which is against a much newer development: charging organizers for police costs related to demonstrations.” Many states have tightened their rules. Berne charged for the first time last year. In Zurich, the Junge SVP demanded that costs be covered in each case want. Failed – yet protesting after the referendum in Limmat will prove costly in the future. Other cities have similar rules.

“Amnesty fears that protesting could be a financial risk. This is a blessing for the well-to-do.” According to Strasser, the government actually has alternatives. After riots, he can identify and punish those responsible. Further compensation should be provided.

“On the other hand, if the demonstrators have to expect from the outset heavy policing costs induced by third parties, this will prevent even peaceful demonstrations from taking place. “This is really a restriction on freedom of assembly,” concludes Strasser. “Something that a state like Switzerland does not need.”

For example, the permit system in place in almost all zones, requiring prior permission for every demonstration, restricts the exercise of the right to protest and may discourage participation in gatherings. Failure to register a demonstration in advance is sometimes used to classify the assembly as “unlawful”, order its disbandment, and impose criminal sanctions on organizers and participants.

There are no rules that apply to the whole of Switzerland. Each province and each municipality has its own rules.

The peculiarities of Switzerland’s federal system create additional difficulties for people who want to prove it. Cantonal differences in legislation require precise knowledge of the applicable licensing system or conditions to be met.

Many actions are pending

Open the box
Box zuklappen

In August, a court in Bern will decide the case of an Amnesty Switzerland employee who, along with five other activists, delivered a petition to the Russian embassy without asking for permission.

In Freiburg, the police charged the organizers of a demonstration for the costs of regulating traffic. The case is currently in Freiburg court.

The European Court of Human Rights will also decide on responsibility for organizing the feminist strike in Geneva and the need for authorities to provide protection to organizers.

“There are no rules that apply to the whole of Switzerland. Each province and each municipality has its own rules,” says Alicia Ziradel from Amnesty International Switzerland. The human rights organization is currently preparing a report on specific problems with cantonal legislation. The report is scheduled for release in the fall.

The report says European countries, including Switzerland, need to completely rethink their approach to curbing peaceful protests and punishing those who take to the streets. Protests should be facilitated, protesters should not be silenced. Repressive laws and regulations must be amended to comply with international human rights obligations.

List of countries studied

Open the box
Box zuklappen

The following countries were studied as part of the report:

  • Belgium
  • Deutschland
  • Finland
  • France
  • Greece
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Luxembourg
  • Netherlands
  • Austria
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Serbia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Republic of Che
  • Hungary
  • Turkey
  • UK.

The project is part of Amnesty International’s global “Protecting Protests” campaign, which advocates for the right to protest around the world.

See also  Kitzbühel is the new hotspot in sis