UN report finds Switzerland has “systemic” racism issues
A damning report published by the UN has found that Switzerland has “systemic” issues with racism, particularly targeting those of African descent. The report gave a number of examples of racism in Switzerland, ranging from police brutality to a game played by children in schools.
Report criticised Swiss children’s game and police brutality
Examples of the “systemic” racism found by the report include the children’s game “who’s afraid of the black man”, as well as the deaths of several black men at the hands of Swiss police in Canton Vaud. While Switzerland was never a colonial power in the traditional sense, Swiss banks and businesses still profited from and invested heavily in the transatlantic slave trade.
The report did note some positive changes that Switzerland has made in recent years, in an attempt to tackle issues of race. It detailed efforts to raise awareness about certain periods of Switzerland’s history, as well as petitions and debates in Neuchâtel regarding the removal of a statue of a banker who made his fortune from the slave trade.
Switzerland’s ambassador to the UN defended itself against the allegations
According to Reuters, while Switzerland’s representative to the UN broadly accepted the report’s findings, the ambassador said the report included “assumptions” and “misunderstandings” which are “not representative of the situation [in Switzerland].” Ambassador Jürg Lauber’s statement suggested that he was unhappy with the use of a limited number of examples to draw wider conclusions about Swiss society.
"Switzerland agrees with your observation that racism and racial discrimination - including against people of African descent - are problems that must be tackled as a matter of urgency," Lauber told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in response to the report.