Violence against women and girls
In August, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women welcomed legislation introduced to combat violence against women and human trafficking but noted the continued prevalence of these human rights abuses. The Committee also expressed concern that support services for victims of trafficking had been established only in a limited number of cantons and that legislation on protection of victims was applied inconsistently.
The Committee called for the establishment of more support services for victims of gender-based violence and action to eliminate discrimination against women of ethnic minority communities and migrant women. The UN Human Rights Committee expressed concern that the Foreign Nationals Act impedes migrant women who have been subjected to domestic violence from acquiring or renewing their residency permit after a divorce.
Switzerland ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture in September. In October, the Federal Council appointed a commission of 12 people as a national torture prevention mechanism.
In July, the Federal Council stated that the creation of an independent national human rights institution was "premature" and instead authorized the creation of a university-based human rights centre as a pilot project. This centre would provide advice and analysis on human rights issues on demand to clients, including governmental and private bodies. Human rights organizations criticized the proposal, however, for failing to comply with internationally recognized criteria on such institutions ("The Paris Principles").
Amnesty International reports
Switzerland: Banning the construction of minarets would violate international human rights law (21 October 2009)
Switzerland votes against religious freedom, (30 November 2009)