Switzerland has a serious systemic problem of racism against people of African descent, according to a report presented to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday, giving a wide range of examples from police brutality to a game for children.
The UN-appointed task force noted the positive steps taken by Switzerland, but nevertheless expressed concern about the prevalence of racial discrimination and highlighted several incidents following a visit to the country this year. .
“The pervasiveness and impunity of this misconduct indicate that there is a serious systemic problem,” he said.
Switzerland’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva broadly accepted the conclusions in comments to the council, although he questioned the experts’ use of a limited number of examples to draw more conclusions. wide.
Landlocked Switzerland was never a colonial power, but its banks, traders and municipalities invested heavily in and benefited from the transatlantic triangular trade, according to the report.
He noted efforts to raise awareness of aspects of Swiss history, such as a petition and debate around the removal of the statue of a banker whose fortune was based on the exploitation of enslaved Africans, in the canton of Neuchâtel.
However, others remained valued like Louis Agassiz, a supporter of scientific racism, who has an alpine peak named after him.
Swiss playground games persist such as “Who’s Afraid of the Black Man?” that have a racially discriminatory effect, experts said.
The report also documents “shocking” police brutality, noting the deaths of several black men in the canton of Vaud.
“Switzerland shares your observation that racism and racial discrimination – including against people of African descent – are problems that must be tackled urgently,” Jurg Lauber told the Council of human rights based in Geneva.
He pointed out that new measures had been implemented to solve the problems, including cantonal counseling centers for victims of racial discrimination and pointed to improvements in police training programmes.