Swiss admit shortcomings in protection of children

The UN Convention on the Right of the Child came into force in 1989. The anniversary was celebrated in Geneva two years ago. Keystone/Martial Trezzini

Switzerland could “do more” to prevent violence against young children, a top Swiss official admitted to a United Nations panel of experts reviewing the country's child rights record.

This content was published on September 20, 2021 - 15:04 with Keystone-SDA/ug

Switzerland ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the ChildExternal link (CRC) in 1997, which establishes global standards to ensure the protection, survival, and development of all children, without discrimination.

On Monday, a Geneva-based UN panel started reviewing Switzerland’s child rights recordExternal link – an official progress review takes place every five years.

Swiss ambassador Stefan Cueni told the panel that the situation for children in Switzerland was generally “rather good”. He recalled that the 26 cantons are responsible for implementing the individual obligations laid out in the children’s rights treaty. However, Cueni admitted that “we could do more” to prevent violence against children in Switzerland.

Meanwhile, a senior representative for the cantons, Nathalie Barthoulot, said the authorities had proven that they were able to react efficiently to help children during the Covid pandemic. She admitted that more could be done to ensure the active participation of children in society.

The UN panel of 18 independent experts, for their part, said certain groups of children needed better protection from discrimination. The panel called for a formal ban on violence against children. One child in five in Switzerland is confronted with serious physical or psychological violence, it said.

The UN body also reiterated its criticism of a controversial anti-terrorism law adopted by Swiss voters in June. It paves the way for preventive detention and electronic surveillance.

During the previous UN review of Switzerland’s child rights record in 2015, the panel of experts concluded that considerable progress was needed to properly apply the international treaty.

However, a ranking by the Amsterdam NGO KidsRights of states’ compliance with the CRC recently put Switzerland in second place behind Iceland and ahead of Finland.

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