In 2022, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland set operational priorities and initiated structural adaptations
Bern, 20.04.2023 - In 2022, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) set priorities in its operational activities and enhanced national and international networking. The aim is to address the fight against all forms of cross-border crime jointly and with more intensity and efficiency. In addition, structural adaptations were initiated.
As a self-governing and institutionally independent federal authority, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland is responsible for prosecuting cases under federal jurisdiction (Articles 23 and 24 CPC), it is also responsible for executing requests for mutual assistance and the enforcement of the decisions of the federal criminal authorities. "In view of this broad field of responsibilities, it is particularly important to set priorities, and, by means of a targeted deployment of resources, to advance and close proceedings or bring them to court. I am convinced that this focus will pay off in the future," explains Stefan Blättler, Attorney General of Switzerland. Flexibility, however must also be maintained to be able to react quickly to developments. "The world is constantly changing, and crime along with it. This is a fact that we have to take into account in our daily work.“
Focus on priorities
The Attorney General of Switzerland, who took office at the beginning of the year under review, in April, prioritized the divisions of Organized Crime, White-Collar Crime, in particular international corruption and money laundering, Terrorism and International Criminal Law. "There is no lack of work, but we want to fulfill our responsibility for a clean Swiss financial center and the safety of the population, for example, from terrorist threats. Switzerland must not be a safe haven for war criminals, criminal organizations or toxic assets," explains Attorney General Blättler.
- In the area of Organized Crime, five new criminal investigations were opened in the year under review and preliminary investigations are underway in eight cases. These organizations are from all over the world, which is why great importance is attached to strengthening relations with law enforcement agencies at the international level. In this context, among others, meetings with representatives of the Italian authorities at various levels have been extremely useful for the exchange of information in the fight against criminal organizations.
- As regards Terrorism, in 2022, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland filed six indictments and opened 13 criminal investigations. In addition, several hearings took place at the Federal Criminal Court, including in particular two relating to the first jihadist-motivated attacks in Switzerland. In both cases, OAG was able to achieve long prison sentences in the first instance.
- Activities in the division of White-Collar Crime, especially international corruption and money laundering, were again characterized by complex criminal proceedings with an international dimension. These large-scale proceedings are challenging, not only because these crimes have often been committed mainly abroad, but also because they have produced a high number of victims. The Office of the Attorney General often has to rely on mutual legal assistance, particularly in the area of international corruption, which does not always provide satisfactory results to the extent needed.
- As regards International Criminal Law, three new criminal investigations were opened, and 13 preliminary investigations were pending as of the reporting date. In addition to the ongoing proceedings, some of which were protracted and required a lot of resources, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland dealt extensively with the repercussions of the war in Ukraine and its jurisdiction. Since the outbreak of the war, a task force has ensured the exchange of information within the organization, but also with national and international partner authorities. In this process, instruments have been developed to enable the rapid and efficient prosecution of potential war crimes, if this falls within the competence of the OAG.
Initiation of structural adaptions
Last year, structural adaptions were initiated to provide the best possible support and relief for the units managing the proceedings and enforcing the judgements. "Our task is to search for both incriminating and exculpatory evidence and, in case of doubt, to file charges with the court in accordance with the principle of "in dubio pro duriore". In order to be able to act as an autonomous and independent authority and to be able to focus ourselves and our resources on our core activities, we need a functioning but also streamlined support organization," explains Attorney General Stefan Blättler. For that purpose, the operational services in the General Secretariat have been merged as of March 2023 and will in future report to a prosecutor. "As an organization, we must be capable of reflecting and learning in order to continue to develop and flexibly adapt to the crime situation," the Attorney General of Switzerland sums up.
Address for enquiries
The Attorney General of Switzerland is available for brief statements during a time slot today. Contact via Communication of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, T +41 58 464 32 40, firstname.lastname@example.org
Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland