The International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) was adopted on 20 December 2006 and is intended to combat this type of crime anywhere in the world. An enforced disappearance occurs when a person is secretly detained by the state, or when the state authorises or acquiesces to the illegal detention. Disappeared persons are often subjected to torture and death. It is a widespread practice on all five of the world's continents. The ICPPED obliges states parties to prohibit enforced disappearances under any circumstances, to take appropriate preventive measures and to bring perpetrators to justice. Switzerland ratified the convention on 19 January 2011.
For it to be implemented domestically however, several changes needed to be made to Swiss legislation. For example, the crime of enforced disappearance has now been made an offence in its own right punishable under criminal law. A network of coordination units (within the federal government and in the cantons) has also been set up in order to swiftly establish the whereabouts of the person concerned in the event of suspected enforced disappearance. The Federal Office of Police (fedpol) acts as the coordination unit within the federal government. It works closely with the cantonal coordination units if it receives a request from a relative of someone that may have been forcibly disappeared. These legal bases were adopted by Parliament on 18 December 2015. The ordinance adopted by the Federal Council today specifies the functions of the network of coordination units.
Switzerland will deposit its instrument of ratification with the United Nations at the beginning of December so that the ICPPED can come into force domestically on 1 January 2017. The Federal Council also decided on 2 November 2016 that the new implementing legislation will be effective as of 1 January next year.
The ICPPED has been signed by 96 states and ratified by 52. Today's decision demonstrates Switzerland's commitment to preventing enforced disappearances worldwide, to finding disappeared persons and to bringing perpetrators of this crime to justice.
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