Violence against women and domestic violence: suggestions published for Swiss implementation of Istanbul Convention

Bern, 15.11.2022 – How successful are Switzerland’s efforts to combat and prevent violence against women and domestic violence? The Council of Europe’s international Group of Experts on Action against Violence against Women and Domestic Violence (GREVIO) has reviewed the implementation of the Istanbul Convention in Switzerland and published its suggestions in a report. The Federal Council comment adopted at its  November 2, 2022, meeting was published at the same time.

The report commends Switzerland’s numerous measures and the country’s solid legal basis for the protection of victims of violence, including the Victim Support Act, which provides the foundation for cantonal victim support offices. The experts also point out how well the federal government, cantons and communes work together.

Federal Council comments on Council of Europe suggestions

The federal and cantonal authorities reviewed and commented on the recommendations for Switzerland contained in the report. For example, the experts propose that Switzerland expand its efforts at combating domestic violence to include other forms of violence against women. The Federal Council responds by highlighting its efforts to increase the focus on gender-based violence through measures such as the national action plan for the implementation of the Istanbul Convention (NAP IC) and the 2030 Equality Strategy. Women and girls are at higher risk of suffering certain types of violence, including sexual violence. This violence can be perpetrated within the home, but also at work or in public.

It is also recommended that Switzerland carry out studies to gather more data on various forms of violence. The Federal Council emphasises the fact that it had already approved a public survey on experiences with violence, which has now been submitted to Parliament for funding. The report also contains specific proposals on how to better protect children who are affected by domestic violence. Here the Federal Council refers to the guidelines published by the Swiss Conference on Combating Domestic Violence with the support of the federal government on protecting children affected by domestic violence. These guidelines are intended to support judges and other experts in making decisions in the best interests of the children involved.

Federal Council prioritises preventing and combating violence

The Federal Council is working to ensure that the targets of the Istanbul Convention are implemented consistently. In June it approved the NAP IC, which consists of 44 measures. The 2030 Equality Strategy, which it approved in April 2021, also places central importance on preventing and combating violence. In addition, the Federal Council points to the domestic violence roadmap that the federal government and the cantons agreed upon in April 2021. The focus here lies on improved threat management and providing victims with easier access to advice via a 24-hour hotline.

Istanbul Convention in force since  April 1, 2018

The Council of Europe Convention on Preventing and Combating Violence against Women and Domestic Violence, known as the Istanbul Convention (IC), came into force in Switzerland on 1 April 2018. An independent committee of experts (GREVIO) monitors the implementation of the IC. The first country report on IC implementation was published in June 2021, and together with the GREVIO delegation’s visit to Switzerland in February, it forms the basis of the current evaluation report, which the Federal Council has taken note of. Switzerland plans to publish another report in three years.

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