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Permanent institution Plans for new Swiss human rights body under scrutiny

Group of blind people with white walking stick

Non-governmental groups say there's still plenty to do to improve the rights of elderly people, children and the disabled in Switzerland. 

(© Keystone/Peter Schneider)

The Swiss government has decided to set up a national human rights institution, but NGO groups have criticised the funding as insufficient. 

The new institution is independent and will be able to work together with government authorities as well as civil society, the private sector, international organisations and the academic community, according to a foreign ministry statementexternal link on Friday. 

The government has pledged to fund the human rights body with CHF1 million ($1 million) annually. 

The proposal, which needs parliamentary approval, would replace the Swiss Center of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR) which was established as a pilot project in 2011. 

The non-governmental Humanrights platformexternal link has cautiously welcomed the government plans but warns that the financial support is “utterly insufficient”. 

“Human rights have price,” a statement says. “The new human rights institution can only be credible and work in an international context if it receives considerably higher government subsidies,” a statement said. 

The creation of a national human rights institution has long been on the domestic political agenda and meets demands by the United Nations, according to the foreign ministry. 

More than 120 states, notably almost all European countries already have established such an institution.

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