Visit by Thomas Hammarberg, Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe

Bern, 10.11.2009 - The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, payed an official visit to Switzerland today Tuesday 10 November 2009.. His talks with Federal Councillor Micheline Calmy-Rey focused on Switzerland’s imminent accession to the chair of the Committee of Ministers, the Council of Europe’s decision-making body. Switzerland supports the Commissioner in his work in a number of ways, including the secondment of human rights experts.

Switzerland is due to take the chair of the Committee of Ministers on 18 November for a period of six months. Its priorities will include ensuring consistent respect for human rights, democracy and the rule of law, and greater transparency and efficiency in the Council of Europe. In this context Switzerland will focus much of its attention on the future of the European Court of Human Rights as the guarantor of human rights and fundamental freedoms in Europe. 

The Commissioner for Human Rights is an independent institution within the Council of Europe. Its mandate is to promote awareness of and respect for human rights in the Council’s member states. In an effort to improve the level of human rights protection the Commissioner makes regular visits to member states to ensure the continuation of direct dialogue with national authorities and discuss specific questions. The last visit of a Commissioner to Switzerland was in December 2004, when the office was held by Alvaro Gil-Robles. 

Founded on 5 May 1949, the Council of Europe today numbers 47 member states. Its main objectives are the protection and promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Europe. In this context the Strasbourg Council bases its decisions primarily on the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the fundamental rights and freedoms of all citizens on the continent.

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