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Press release
Bern, 26.11.2014

The Swiss Council of States approves the postulate on compensation for victims

Access to Justice: the First Step

The Council of States today approved postulate 14.3663. This requires a report on access to remedy for victims of human rights violations by companies. The way is now open for the Federal Council to close a significant gap for victims of human rights violations. The Swiss Coalition for Corporate Justice (SCCJ) calls for a rapid and detailed clarification of the current situation and effective measures for Switzerland.

In 2012 the SCCJ petition was filed. One hundred and thirty-five thousand signatories demanded on the one hand that Swiss companies respect human rights and environmental standards around the world, and on the other, that victims be able to claim compensation here in Switzerland. The Foreign Affairs Committee of the Council of States has included this second part of the petition in the postulate adopted today by the Council of States. The report will detail the judicial and non-judicial measures implemented in other countries for people whose human rights have been violated by companies in host States that enable effective access to remedy in the companies’ home state. The Federal Council is to consider what measures would be suitable for Switzerland.

With the adoption of this postulate, the Federal Council has been effectively given the instruction to analyze the third pillar of the UN guiding principles on business and human rights ("access to remedy") in depth. This is necessary because, as the Federal Council writes in its response to the postulate, gaps exist in this area so far. Such a report, "brings updated findings in two areas that have hitherto only been touched on peripherally or considered from different angles." This is why the Federal Council wants to integrate the report in the National Action Plan (NAP) for the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles (see postulate 12.3505).

The SCCJ calls on the Federal Council to take the work on this report quickly in hand so that the National Action Plan (NAP) currently expected in December 2014 is not further delayed. In addition, the coalition expects a clarification of the current gaps in Swiss law and effective measures to improve the situation of those affected.

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