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PI Newsletter #100

1. Killing Free Speech in Switzerland

June 6, 2020


The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) recently published its sixth monitoring report on Switzerland.

ECRI is the human rights monitoring body of the Council of Europe — not to be confused with the European Union. The Council of Europe calls itself the “continent’s leading human rights organization.”

ECRI was founded in 1994 by the heads of state of the Council of Europe with the mandate, among other things, to “review member States’ legislation, policies and other measures to combat racism, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance, and their effectiveness”.

The organization is composed of “members designated by their governments… on the basis of their in-depth knowledge in the field of combating intolerance”. They should have … expertise in dealing with racism… and intolerance. ECRI’s members are nominated in their personal capacity and act as independent members”.

ECRI’s monitoring of Switzerland, since its first report about the country was published in 1998, is an illustrative example of the organization’s persistent efforts — and considerable success — over the past two decades in limiting free speech in Europe.


2. ECRI – European Commission against Racism and Intolerance

■The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) is a unique human rights monitoring body which specialises in questions relating to the fight against racism, discrimination (on grounds of “race”, ethnic/national origin, colour, citizenship, religion, language, sexual orientation and gender identity), xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance in Europe. A pan-European Commission, composed of independent members, set up by Heads of State and Government

■ECRI was set up by the first Summit of Heads of State and Government of the member states of the Council of Europe in 1993 and became operational in 1994. As ECRI marks 25 years of combating racism and intolerance, current trends show that these are still persistent problems in European societies that require renewed efforts to be overcome.

■ECRI is composed of 47 members appointed on the basis of their independence, impartiality, moral authority and expertise in dealing with issues of racism, discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance. Each Council of Europe member state appoints one person to serve as a member of ECRI.


■ECRI’s statutory activities cover country monitoring, work on general themes and relations with civil society and equality bodies.

■ECRI also maintains special relations with independent authorities responsible for combating racism, discrimination, xenophobia, antisemitism and intolerance at national level (equality bodies) and with relevant international organisations, such as the European Union, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Country monitoring

In its country monitoring work ECRI analyses the situation closely in each of the member states and makes recommendations for dealing with any problems of racism and intolerance identified there. A country visit is organised before the preparation of each new report in order to obtain as comprehensive a picture as possible of the situation in the country. During the visit the ECRI delegation meets key players in the fight against racism and intolerance in the country concerned. All countries dealt with on an equal footing



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