The Anti Human Rights initiative: What are we talking about?

22.11.2018

In less than a week, the Swiss people will have decided. But what exactly? “Swiss law instead of foreign judges”, “initiative for self-determination”, “anti human rights initiative”. Under these different names hides one and the same object of voting.

The Democratic Union of the Centre (UDC), at the origin of this initiative, has constantly moved the debate. The latest blow: a rejection of the initiative would pose a threat to direct democracy and to the “Swiss model” and would no longer guarantee the right to vote of citizens in the long term.

However, it is not. The initiative of the UDC wants to make people believe there is a problem where there is none. It is nothing less than a direct attack on the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). Switzerland ratified the ECHR more than forty years ago and our direct democracy has not aged a bit. On the contrary, the ECHR strengthens the fundamental rights enshrined in the Swiss Constitution. Yet these rights can be weakened, particularly by popular initiatives with uncertain consequences that the UDC brandishes regularly, or even by federal laws, since there is in Switzerland no control of the conformity of the laws with the federal Constitution.

Decisions of the European Court of Human Rights have not always served the interests of the UDC. As a reminder, the Strasbourg Court had overturned a decision of the Federal Court in the Perinçek case in 2015. It ruled that the Swiss nationalist’s condemnation of his remarks describing the Armenian genocide as an “international lie” violated his right to freedom of expression.

Endangered freedoms

This initiative could especially blow up the safeguards that protect the right to life, liberty, against inhuman treatment, as well as the right to privacy, freedom of conscience and religion, freedom of expression and association, marriage and family life. It would put Switzerland in the trend of the policies of Trump, Putin, Erdoğan or Orbán.

By voting “NO” on 25 November 25, the Swiss people will demonstrate their commitment to the fundamental rights they have acquired through the ECHR. By voting “NO”, the people will prevent Switzerland from being at odds with the treaties it has signed. By voting “NO”, they will affirm that their fundamental rights will not be sacrificed on the altar of demagoguery and political timelines.