Swiss National Conference on Violence: Better protection for victims

New legislation makes it possible to provide better protection for victims of vio-lence. More than 340 experts are meeting today in Bern at the National Confer-ence on Violence to share views on the changes to criminal and civil law. The conference, which will be attended by Federal Councillor Karin Keller-Sutter, will focus on children who are affected by violence, as well as electronic monitoring and learning programmes for perpetrators of violence.

A number of new legal provisions provide improved protection against domestic violence and stalking. The changes in practice will be presented at the conference, and several of the cantons will address their implications with regard to suspending criminal proceedings and ordering learning programmes for perpetrators of violence. The changes result from a revision of Article 55a of the Criminal Code, which came into force on July 1, 2020, increasing the discretionary powers of the prosecution authorities.

A new guideline for dealing with children affected by domestic violence will also be presented at the conference. It provides judges and other professionals with information on how decisions can be made in the best interests of the child.

The possibilities and limitations of electronic monitoring will also be a point of discussion at the conference. Victims of domestic violence and stalking are to be better protected by a new provision on electronically monitored civil exclusion orders and contact bans. This comes into force on 1 January 2022 and provides for the possibility of electronic monitoring using wrist and ankle tags.

The police recorded more than 46000 violent crimes in Switzerland in 2020, with the number of domestic offences exceeding 20000 for the first time. On average, one person dies every two weeks as a result of such an assault; an average of 25 people per year, four of them children. A total of 27000 children and young people are affected by domestic violence every year.

The national conference has been organised by the Federal Office for Gender Equality (FOGE) in cooperation with the Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) and the Conference of Cantonal Justice and Police Directors (CCJPD). Over 340 professionals from all over Switzerland are taking part, including from the police, public prosecution services, courts, child and adult protection authorities, victim support services, women’s shelters, as well as learning programmes and counselling centres for perpetrators of violence.

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