National frameworks to address hate crime in Switzerland

This page provides information on the national frameworks to address hate crime in Switzerland. The information provided here should be viewed alongside data presented on Switzerland's hate crime report page.

Hate crime recording and data collection

Hate crimes are prosecuted under Article 261bis of the Swiss Criminal Code, which protects against acts of racial discrimination committed in public. As a result, there are offences registered that fall outside the OSCE's definition of hate crime. On the other hand, many acts that would fall under the definition, but which are not carried out in public, are not recorded under Article 261bis of the Criminal Code. 

Hate crimes are not recorded as a distinct category by police. However, the Federal Office for Statistics has completely updated the Police Crime Statistics (PCS) system, and it is now possible to record offences that do not fall under Article 261bis of the Criminal Code as having a racist motive (such as a racially motivated offence not committed in public). However, this feature is only optional, and the validity of the record depends on the relevant training and instruction of the police. The data is thus not used for the hate crime report. 

Neither prosecutors nor the judiciary record hate crimes. The only information recorded about hate crimes are statistics on convictions related to Criminal Code Articles 261bis and 261, including the desecration of places of worship. These data are published by the Federal Office for Statistics. The Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) collects and analyses the judgments and decisions related to Article 261bis. The Federal Commission against Racism maintains a database of judgments and decisions related to Article 261bis, which are pronounced by cantonal law enforcement agencies and courts as well as by the Federal Supreme Court. The database provides statistics that classify data according to bias motivation, target groups and the type of offence or incident.   

Hate crime victim support

Switzerland provides support to hate crime victims as part of its general victim support scheme. Switzerland's legislation does not provide for penalty enhancements in hate crime cases, and hate crime victims have the same status as other crime victims, including in criminal proceedings.

Switzerland's legislation grants victim support to anyone whose integrity has been directly impaired, either physically, sexually or psychologically, as a result of a criminal act, regardless of whether or not the perpetrator was sentenced or found guilty. Support is also available to the victim's family members or other people close to the victim.

Switzerland's Counselling Network for Victims of Racism is a joint venture run by the Federal Commission against Racism and, a Swiss civil society organization (CSO). It consists of 23 member organizations that provide legal, psychological and general advice to victims of racial discrimination. There is at least one Victims' Counselling Centre in each canton providing information on available support measures. The support includes free counselling, information and guidance, and medical, psychological, social, material and legal assistance. While immediate assistance for the most urgent needs is provided free of charge, the state can also contribute to the costs of long-term assistance based on the financial situation of the victim or their family. The victim can be referred to a Counselling Centre of their choice. Counselling Centres can provide help through other service providers, such as psychotherapists, legal counsels, and providers of emergency accommodation and security.

The victim is a party to the proceedings if they act as a private plaintiff. Victims can claim compensation from the Cantonal Compensation Office and, as a civil party, from the perpetrator.

Hate crime capacity building

There is no institutionalized hate crime training at national level for criminal justice officials. Some cantons have put in place training on recognizing bias motivation.