Swiss voters acknowledge importance of international human rights safeguards


On 25 November 2018, Swiss voters clearly rejected the popular initiative with the misleading title "self-determination initiative". The initiative, launched by the right-wing Swiss People's Party (SVP), had threatened to tear down international legal safeguards necessary to rectify court judgments that do not sufficiently consider citizens‘ basic human rights.

If the initiative had been adopted, the Swiss government would have had to terminate its membership of the Council of Europe and thus its adherence to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR). The possibilities for citizens to enforce their human rights, and thus also their freedom to decide on their own life and life’s end, would have been considerably restricted.

DIGNITAS supported the "Allianz der Zivilgesellschaft / Schutzfaktor M", a conglomerate of various groups which conducted a campaign against the initiative. Following a letter by DIGNITAS to its members, the campaigners received a number of donations. DIGNITAS would like to thank all of the donators among its members for supporting this important campaign. The initiative was rejected by the population in the November 25 vote (66.2% of votes against); pre-voting polls had been much less clear. It seems that the strong mobilization in the weeks prior to the vote by the campaigning groups was fruitful.

Since its founding, DIGNITAS has always been committed to the protection and enforcement of human rights – also in Switzerland. It has repeatedly achieved important progress in the struggle for the enforcement of self-determination at life’s end by means of court proceedings – including such proceedings in Switzerland and Germany, which ultimately resulted in favour of self-determination in life and at life’s end due to decisions by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

Measured against the total number of deaths, assisted dying remains a marginal phenomenon even after more than 30 years of this being a practice in Switzerland. Nevertheless, conservative political circles, often tied to religious institutions, parts of the medical profession – especially their professional organisations – and health institutions still do not accept it for what it is: a self-chosen way of ending one’s suffering and life based on the free will of a responsible citizen. At the moment, there are no signs that current conditions will be limited in Switzerland but DIGNITAS keeps monitoring the situation and will do its utmost to safeguard self-determination in end-of-life matters.



Newsletter 2019-1-3-e


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