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NGOs raise concerns about human rights practices in Switzerland
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08:56, February 27, 2008

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More than 30 Swiss non-governmental organizations have raised concerns about human rights practices in Switzerland in a report addressed to the United Nations, the official Swissinfo news website reported on Tuesday.

The coalition's report, released on Tuesday, pointed in particular to the lack of institutional mechanisms to ensure the effective implementation of human rights conventions already ratified by Switzerland.

"Switzerland has not yet established a national human rights institution that would accompany the Swiss federal and cantonal authorities in this implementation process," Sandra Imhof, coordinator for the coalition of NGOs, told Swissinfo.

"The second point is that Switzerland has not yet set up a UN national action plan for ratified human rights conventions," she added.

The NGOs released their comments ahead of the first ever UN review of the Swiss domestic human rights practices.

Switzerland has to report on this issue to the UN's Geneva-based Human Rights Council in May. NGOs may also contribute to the Universal Periodic Review, which is being extended to all 192 UN member states.

Another problem pointed out by the NGOs is federalism and the dividing up of duties between the Swiss federal and cantonal authorities. With the 26 cantons each having their own systems, differences ensue, they said.

The coalition is calling on Switzerland to ratify the UN conventions on migrant workers, enforced disappearances, and disabled people. It also wants the law against discrimination to be tightened, including the strategies against racism and xenophobia.

Switzerland has come under criticism in the past by the UN over its asylum policy and allegations of racism.

Source: Xinhua

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