Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad: annual implementation report for 2018

Bern, 14.08.2019 - The authority responsible for the implementation of the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA) has published its third activity report, covering the period from 1 January–31 December 2018. The authority processed a total of 479 declarations from private security companies. The Federal Council took note of this at its meeting on 14 August 2019.

The PSSA entered into force on 1 September 2015. Since that date, companies intending to provide private security services abroad from Switzerland have been required to provide prior notification to the competent authority. The authority responsible for the implementation of the new law is the Directorate of Political Affairs within the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), through its Private Security Services Section (PSSS). Article 37 of the PSSA stipulates that the competent authority shall submit an annual report on its activities to the Federal Council. This report is available on the FDFA website.

In 2018, the competent authority received 479 declarations. These mainly fall into three groups of activities: protecting persons and guarding goods and properties in complex environments, private intelligence services, and support for armed or security forces. In terms of geographical distribution, a concentration of activities subject to the PSSA was observed in North Africa and the Middle East – where more than half of the reported activities took place – and in Europe and Central Asia. 

During the period under review, the competent authority initiated 16 review procedures in accordance with Art. 13 PSSA. In three instances, the company was allowed to carry out the declared activity. In seven instances, the competent authority prohibited the declared activity in whole or in part. Six cases were pending.

Legal decisions taken or communicated in 2019 are not included in the 2018 activity report. Furthermore, the annual activity reports are of a general nature and do not contain information on individual cases.

No activities prohibited under Arts. 8 and 9 PSSA were identified, which means that no private security services involving direct participation in hostilities or which could result in serious human rights violations were reported to the authority. In its report, the competent authority gives a positive assessment of its activities in 2018. The importance of the oversight mechanism for private security services abroad introduced by the PSSA is gaining wider acceptance and recognition internationally. 

Continuing to provide information and raise awareness among potentially affected companies was one of the competent authority's main activities, in addition to handling declarations by private security companies subject to the PSSA. The competent authority extended its information and awareness-raising activities to new companies, helping to increase companies' understanding of their obligations under the act.

At the international level, the section took part in dialogue on standards for private security companies and on oversight mechanisms relating to their activities.

In 2019, the competent authority will continue to improve the processes for implementing the PSSA, follow through with the reciprocal coordination and information mechanisms put in place with SECO and publish a new version of the PSSA Guidelines and Information Sheet (Aide-mémoire relatif à la LPSP).

The competent authority will also continue to apply itself to the challenges posed by the emergence of new technologies and expanding utilisation of cyberspace.

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