Switzerland has a serious systematic problem with racism against people of African descent, according to a report presented Monday to the UN Human Rights Council, which provides a wide range of examples, from police violence to a child’s play.

The UN-appointed working group noted positive measures taken by Switzerland, but still expressed concern about the prevalence of racial discrimination and drew attention to several incidents after visiting the country this year.

“The ubiquity and impunity of this misconduct indicate a serious systematic problem,” the Working Group said.

Switzerland’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva broadly agreed with the findings in his comments to the council, but questioned the experts ‘ use of a limited number of examples to draw broader conclusions.

Land-locked Switzerland was never a colonial power, but its banks, merchants and municipalities invested heavily and profited from transatlantic triangle trade, the report said.

The report mentions efforts to raise public awareness of aspects of Swiss history, such as a petition and debate surrounding the removal of the statue of a banker whose fortune depended on the exploitation of African slaves in the canton of Neuchatel.

However, others remained valued, such as Louis Agassiz, a proponent of scientific racism, after whom an Alpine peak is named.

Swiss games on playgrounds persist, such as ” who’s afraid of the black man?’, which have a racially discriminatory effect, according to the experts.

The report also mentions “shocking ” police violence, citing the deaths of several black men in the canton of Vaud.

“Switzerland agrees with your comment that racism and racial discrimination – including against people of African descent – are problems that urgently need to be addressed,” Jurg Lauber told The Human Rights Council in Geneva on Monday.

He stressed that new measures have been taken to address the problems, including cantonal consultation centres for victims of racial discrimination, and pointed to improvements in police training programmes.


About the author: Louise Roth

Louise Roth is the youngest member of WeeklyNewsReview team. Despite the young age Louise is interested in serious topics. Her main interests and education is all about economics and politics. But in our team she is the most productive do-it-all member, so she has to write on a variety of topics.

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