Switzerland loses two human rights cases 

The European Court of Human Rights ruled against Switzerland in cases concerning preventive detention and protection of journalistic sources. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled against Switzerland in two cases: one involving a Turkish man kept in custody for security reasons, and another regarding a journalist ordered to reveal her sources.  

This content was published on October 6, 2020 - 16:32
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In the first case, the Strasbourg-based ECHR ruled on Tuesday that the Swiss decision violated Article 5 (the right to freedom and security) of the European Convention on Human Rights. Switzerland was ordered to pay the man €25,000 ($29,000) compensation plus €7,000 in costs.  

The Turkish citizen was kept in detention after being acquitted at first instance on charges of raping his partner multiple times. Switzerland’s Office of the Attorney General appealed the acquittal and asked that he remain in jail for security reasons. The Federal Court rejected his first request to be freed, deeming that he possibly faced a heavy jail sentence and could escape to Turkey.  

However, the ECHR noted that under Article 5, detention should end with an acquittal. It said national law should guarantee a defendant’s presence for appeals procedures by less heavy-handed means than detention.  

The second case involved a journalist called to testify in a criminal investigation. She was required to reveal her sources following a 2012 article in the newspaper Basler Zeitung on a soft drug dealer. The Federal Court ruled that this was in the public interest because trafficking in soft drugs is a criminal offence. 

However, the Strasbourg court ruled that this violated the European Convention’s Article 10 on freedom of expression because the Federal Court had not sufficiently shown it was in the overriding public interest in this case. 

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