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Press review Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Carla del Ponte has been speaking to the press again about why she is leaving the UN's Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic


Interviews with Swiss former prosecutor Carla Del Ponte about Syrian President Bachar al-Assad, Swiss President Doris Leuthard on the impact of climate change and a study on Germans living in Switzerland make up some of the headlines in Sunday’s newspapers. 

In an interview in Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung, Carla Del Ponte, the former Swiss Attorney General and ex-prosecutor for the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) and the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), confirms she has sent her letter of resignation from the United Nations-appointed Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic. Her resignation will become effective from September 18. 

She says she is convinced that the UN Commission, which has been chronicling incidents such as chemical weapons attacks, a genocide against Iraq's Yazidi population, siege tactics, and the bombing of aid convoys, has gathered sufficient evidence to try Syrian President Bachar al-Assad for war crimes. She said it was frustrating and a ‘tragedy’ that the UN Security Council had not set up any court to try war crimes committed in the six-and-a-half-year-old war. She blames Russia for vetoing any decision to establish such a court. She adds that she is considering writing a book about her experiences in the UN Commission. 

Last weekend, Del Ponte gave a surprise announcement that she would be retiring during her appearance at the Locarno Film Festival.

In an interview in the NZZ am Sonntag newspapeexternal linkr, Swiss President Doris Leuthard talks about her recent visit to Greenland and climate change matters. She said climate sceptics could not change scientific realities: glaciers are melting faster than previously imagined up to now due to global warming and Switzerland, as an alpine nation, is particularly affected. In the next 50 years, many low-level Swiss resorts (under 2,000 metres) will most likely lack snow to meet the needs of the tourism industry, warned Leuthard. She urged Swiss businesses and centre-right politicians to help ensure that new climate legislation was accepted in Switzerland. 

The NZZ am Sonntag reports that 300,000 Germans currently living in Switzerland are very happy with their host country. Only one third imagine possibly returning to Germany, according to the paper, whose report is based on a Swiss National Science Foundation study which has analysed the motivation and aims of German immigrants to Switzerland since 2002. The main reasons behind Germans’ positive outlook are their professional situation, salary, high quality of life and economic stability in Switzerland. Despite the media often focusing on alleged hostility towards Germans in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, most German immigrants say they feel well integrated, the study found. 

According to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper, the Swiss authorities paid CHF2.8 billion in direct subsidies to 46,000 Swiss farmers last year. In 16% of cases, or on 7,230 farms, federal inspectors reported failings. In 10% of cases the Federal Agricultural Office found serious violations of animal protection or environmental laws. The Swiss Animal Protection Association (PSA), meanwhile, estimates that a quarter of cases reported concern mistreatment of animals.

The Ostschweiz am Sonntag and Zentralschweiz am Sonntag reported that the number of criminal cases for cruelty to animals has increased significantly in recent years. Citing national figures, they say violations of the federal regulations for the protection of animals rose by 21% between the end of July 2017 and the previous year.

Last week police in northeastern Switzerland detained a horse dealer suspected of cruelty to animals and closed down his farm near Lake Constance. Animal rights groups criticised veterinary authorities for failing to prevent cases of animal cruelty. The Swiss Animal Protection group called for stricter and more controls of animal farms, especially in cases of suspected cruelty and of breeders known for failing to provide animal-friendly conditions.

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