UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance: result of the consultation process and Federal Council dispatch

Bern, 29.11.2013 - Through the ratification of the UN Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the Federal Council intends to support international efforts to fight enforced disappearance. Today, it submitted a dispatch for the ratification of the convention and for legislation on the implementation provisions.

Enforced disappearance is the deprivation of liberty by a state or with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the state, accompanied by concealment of the fate or whereabouts of the disappeared person. It is often followed by the torture or killing of that person.  Enforced disappearance is widespread over all five continents. Under the convention of 21 December 2006, states parties agree to prohibit enforced disappearance under any circumstances, to take appropriate preventive measures and to bring perpetrators of enforced disappearance to justice. More than 90 states have signed the convention to date.  Some 39 have ratified it, including many countries of Latin America as well as Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.

The international efforts to prevent and adequately prosecute enforced disappearance are worthy of Switzerland's support, which is why it signed the convention on 19 January 2011. In its decision of 19 December 2012, the Federal Council tasked the FDFA to carry out the consultation procedure, which ended on 8 April 2013. A total of 48 position statements were submitted. The overriding majority of participants supported the Federal Council's intention to ratify the convention and were in agreement with the implementation provisions.

Swiss legislation already largely satisfies the convention's central concern. For it to be implemented in Switzerland, changes to the law will only be necessary in a few areas. Firstly, enforced disappearance will need to be made an offence in its own right punishable under criminal law. A network of coordination units will also need to be set up (within the federal government and in the cantons) to be able to swiftly establish the whereabouts of the person concerned in the event of suspected enforced disappearance.


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