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International Human Rights Day focuses on awareness

Children, women and foreigners are all potential victims of human rights abuses in Switzerland


Organisations around the world have marked International Human Rights Day, on December 10, by calling for more awareness and tolerance. This year, the organisation Human Rights Switzerland, is focusing on the rights of women, children, and foreigners.

One of the group's board members, Maya Doetzkies, told swissinfo that not enough people in Switzerland realise that human rights are very much a domestic issue.

"A lot of people think violations of human rights happen only in other countries", she says, "but we also have a lot of work to do here in Switzerland in terms of implementing universal human rights".

She says that when people talk about human rights, they often do so only in the context of torture or imprisonment. In reality, she says, there are many discreet forms of human rights abuses which go unrecognised in countries like Switzerland.

She cites racism, discrimination in the workplace and poverty as prime examples.

Overall, Doetzkies would like to see more equality for women, children, foreigners and refugees in Switzerland. However, she acknowledges that since Switzerland signed the Women's Rights Convention, the country has made positive steps towards fighting discrimination against women.

Besides raising awareness of human rights in Switzerland, the organisation also hopes to see more transparency and discussion about the topic. Doetzkies blames the complicated, cumbersome and often ineffective monitoring procedures for a lack of communication and awareness in Switzerland.

The group believes that public awareness about how Switzerland is doing in the field of human rights would foster much-needed public discussion. The group hopes that awareness and information would eventually lead to more equality and less discrimination.

Doetzkies would also like to see improved communication between politicians and non-governmental organisations. In addition, she would like to see more education about the value of universal human rights.

Overall, Doetzkies does acknowledge that Switzerland has a fairly good human rights track record, compared to other countries around the world, but she says there is still room for improvement.

by Anna Nelson

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