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New measures Domestic violence victims to receive better legal protection

Under current Swiss law it is difficult to prove that a stalker violated a ban to approach his victim according to Justice Minister Sommaruga


The government has called for legal amendments to improve the protection of victims of domestic violence and measures to crack down on stalkers in Switzerland.

Presenting the plans on Wednesday, Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga said the cabinet was seeking the use of electronic bracelets to monitor compliance with bans against approach or contact with a victim of domestic violence.

However, the cabinet dropped proposals for live electronic monitoring following opposition from cantons for practical reasons. Instead the data can be used as evidence in a court case.

The reform includes lowering legal hurdles for victims to take their case to court, including the exemption from financial cost for victims and the disclosure of a court ruling to other authorities.

As part of the legal reform, victims of sexual assault and other acts of violence as well as threats among couples would be less likely to be put under pressure to agree to give up legal proceedings.

Offences on the increase

The government also encouraged the 26 cantonal authorities to increase cooperation to set up precautionary measures to prevent domestic violence.

“I hope parliament will not hesitate to table the reform speedily. We need these measures,” Sommaruga told a media conference. “The current situation is untenable.”

She said the authorities had recorded a marked increase in cases of domestic offences in recent years, despite the implementation of a special law aimed at protecting victims of violence 25 years ago.

Last year, more than 17,600 domestic offences were reported and registered by police – a 13% increase over the two previous years. Nineteen people, mainly women, died as a result of domestic violence in 2016.

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