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Female climate activists could report Switzerland to Council of Europe

activists including a boy hold flags in front of the European court, waiting for their decision on a cloudy day in April 2024
"We can also see the judgement as an opportunity and use it to become a role model for other countries," said Wydler-Wälti, co-president of the KlimaSeniorinnen (the Climate Senior Women). Keystone

The senior Swiss women who recently won a landmark climate case in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) have sharply criticised a Swiss parliamentary committee that last week rejected the ruling.

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The ECHR verdict is binding for Switzerland and must not be ignored, they declared on Wednesday. If necessary, the Council of Europe would be informed.

“Human rights are not subject to political majorities,” Rosmarie Wydler-Wälti, co-president of the KlimaSeniorinnen (the Climate Senior Women), told the media. “We expect the Federal Council to resolutely protect institutions and the rule of law and not to comply in any way with the Senate declaration.”

+ Landmark ruling: Switzerland’s climate policy violates human rights

The elderly plaintiffs are demanding that parliament “fulfil its responsibility.” Should this not happen, the group will contact the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe and inform it of “all developments and omissions in Switzerland”.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has the task of reviewing the implementation of ECHR judgements.

Today’s announcement was triggered by a decision made by the Senate Legal Affairs Committee on May 21. It concluded that the ECHR had “overreached its authority” with its climate judgement.

+ Senate commission criticises ECHR for climate ruling against Switzerland

The committee requested that a declaration be issued stating that Switzerland sees no reason to comply with the judgement. The Senate will decide on the adoption of this declaration in the summer session.

‘Judgement fell on Switzerland by chance’

At the beginning of April, the ECHR ruled in favour of the women’s association and found that Switzerland had violated the Convention on Human Rights. Switzerland had failed to fulfil its duties regarding climate protection.

“The judgement fell on Switzerland by chance,” said Wydler-Wälti. Another country could also have been accused. “We can also see the judgement as an opportunity and use it to become a role model for other countries.”

Adapted from German by DeepL/dkk/sb

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