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Switzerland: History, Politics and Criminal Justice System

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: International Studies
Wordcount: 4533 words Published: 8th Feb 2020

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Switzerland Research Paper


A Current History of the Country

 The Swiss Confederation was founded in 1291 as a defensive alliance between 3 cantons. In leading years, more cantons continued to join the original three. In 1499, the Confederation gained independence from the Holy Roman Empire. A centralized government replaced the confederation in 1848. Sovereignty and neutrality has been honored in Europe and Switzerland wasn’t in either world war. The Swiss was added as an United Nations member in 2002, they remain active in United Nations and international organizations but always commit to staying neutral.

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Switzerland is in central Europe and their geographical coordinates are 47 00 N and 8 00 E. Switzerland covers a total of 41,277 sq. km; 39,997 sq. km is land and 1,280 sq. km is water, making the country #136 in line of biggest to smallest. Switzerland is almost twice the size as New Jersey. The Swiss has a population of 8,292,809 as of July 2018. There are three main languages/ ethnic groups, which consist of German at 65%, French at 18%, and Italian at 10%. The country grows at a rate of .68% as of this year and there are 10.5 births to every 1000 person.

 Economics is Switzerland is divided into three sections: Landwirtschaft (agriculture), Industrie (industry), and Dienstleistungen (services). Agriculture is highly supported by the government but less than 10% of the population is employed through this section. Industrie, Gewerbe, und Handwerk (industry, trade, and handicraft) employs 40% of the population. This section also includes machine and metal, watch, and the textile industry. Dienstleistungen (services) employs more than 50% of the population; this section includes banking, assurances, tourism, and much more.  Gross domestic product is defined as the total value of goods produced and services provided in a country during one year. Switzerland’s GDP is $64,842 per capita, or person.

 Switzerland has no natural resources, so education is a very important resource. Therefore, Switzerland has been said to have one of the best educational systems. Since the cantons are responsible for education, it may vary between cantons. For example, some cantons could start teaching a certain subject years earlier than another canton. Most children go to public school, they could go to private school but most citizens don’t send their children to private schools because of the price and the stigma that if a child is on private school, they weren’t doing well in public school. Public schools include kindergarten, elementary school, secondary school, and the universities. Local authorities provide kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools, most cantons provide a secondary school, and there are 11 universities in Switzerland; Nine are run by the cantons and two by the confederation.

  Some children are required to go to kindergarten, depending of the location. But kindergarten is becoming more mandatory. The children don’t learn how to read or write but they learn social abilities. Elementary school is mandatory for all Swiss children. They have a choice between public and private school. Elementary starts at the age of 7 and last up to 9 years. Some elementary schools offer another year to students who haven’t figured out what they want to do, haven’t found an apprenticeship, or hasn’t reached the age to start the job they want. Apprenticeships usually start after elementary school, and takes four years to complete. An apprenticeship can include any kind of profession, and the student would get trained at a company and attend school a couple of days out of the week. Some apprenticeship might include their own classes as well. 

Gymnasium is a secondary school: they usually last four and a half or 6 and a half years and leads to a federal diploma, which is recognized by all the universities in Switzerland. It is possible to get a graduation diploma after an apprenticeship. Universities ran by cantons only provide non-technical subject, but universities ran by the confederation provide those technical subjects. They are called: Swiss Federal Institutes of Technology.” To attend a university, the student must finish at secondary school and own a graduation diploma. Studies at a university usually last four and a half years.

Switzerland is one of the world’s wealthiest nations. One in 13 of Swiss residents live below the poverty line. Citizens of Switzerland need to take in account that they have a much higher cost of living. In other to offset the cost of living here in Switzerland, the financial demands of the country need to be made. Elderly, immigration, and single-parent households are especially going to feel the poverty and be vulnerable against it. The only way to make this situation better is to make sure that we have trial and error situations going on around these sensitive areas. Poverty in Switzerland is decreasing in numbers for those that have been hit by poverty. Rates have been decreasing from 9.3% to 6.6% since 2007. The fact that the poverty levels is being addressed shows the importance of not allowing the minority to have to suffer and go lover looked.


Political Organizations

 Switzerland has several political parties. Some of the more popular ones are: First is the SVP, Swiss People’s Party. The party was founded in 1971 by a compilation of farmers, artisans, and citizens’ party with the Democratic Party. SVP had followed traditional social and economic policies, including lowering taxes and reducing spending; they also protect the Swiss agriculture and industry. The party has gone against Swiss membership in international bodies like the United Nations and the European Union. The SVP was originally directed toward the rural Switzerland, but now has clout in the urban areas as well. The Swiss People’s Party holds 54 seats in Parliament and in the latest election, the votes were counted at 26.56%. SVP also has a strong standing with German citizens. They adopted a populist agenda in the 1990s when it came to immigration and social welfare. SVP had a winning streak but was shaken by destructive strife on both sides of the party and withdrew from the countries coalition.

 The second political party that I came across was the SPS, Social Democratic Party. The SPS was founded in 1888 and is one of the Switzerland’s oldest political parties. The in 19th century, it was one of the leading parties to sit oppose to the then-dominant Radical Democratic Party. SPS supports a large government role in the economy and their policies usually mirror those of the democratic socialists in Europe. Opposed to the Swiss People’s Party, the SPS became an advocate for Swiss membership in international relations; those international bodies include the United Nations and the European Union. In the 20th century, the party supported many issues including environmental protection and expanding roles for woman in the government. The SPS holds 46 seats in Parliament and in the latest election, the voted were counted at 18.72%.

 The Free Democratic Party, better known as the Radical Democratic Party came into play in 1848, to the movement of the Swiss Confederation and the country’s first constitution. The FDP dominated Swiss politics from 1848 to the end of the 19th century but was known as the Liberal Party. The Radical Democratic Party has supported a strong federal government and a market economy since its founding but has equally been an advocate for the rights of the local government and minority rights. The FDP holds 30 seats in Parliament and in the latest election, the votes were counts at 14.55%. The Radical Party is usually looked at as being close to the business community and has cooperated with the conservative liberals before they merged in 2008.

 The CVP, Christian Democratic Party was founded in 1912 as the Swiss Conservative Party. This party was created to represent Switzerland’s Roman Catholics; it also includes representatives of Christian trade unions. The CVP is usually against the power at the federal level and to the federal taxation. The Christian Democratic Party rather vote in the interest of raising revenues by means of taxation on tobacco and alcohol. This party is in favor of religious institutions and using religious values to solve social problems and has endorsed a policy aimed at making family units stronger. The CVP has always encouraged Switzerland to participate more in international relations, including giving aid to developing countries and entry into the United Nations and the European Union. They have a total of 23 seats in Parliament and in the latest election; the voted were counted at 12.30%.

Criminal Justice System

 With the help of interoperability, the ability of military equipment or groups to operate in conjunction with each other, all Swiss police go through the same training and can end up with federal qualifications. With these federal qualifications, they can work anywhere in the country. With that’s being said, each cantonal can set their standard qualifications or rules. For example, on cantonal might have a different age, weight, or height requirement that another cantonal. Each cantonal has their own uniform and police car make and model.

 Unity in diversity is what the Swiss prides itself on. A word that I came across frequently while researching was “cantons”, which means a subdivision of a country established for political or administrative purposes, as well as a state of the Swiss Confederation. When it comes the to Swiss police, the states have supreme authority over them, which is inscribed in the Swiss Constitution. There are 26 Cantons (states), 26 police ministers, and 26 police chiefs. Swiss cantons are basically independent states that come together in federation when the time is right. Federal authorities handle some areas on competence, but it was decided that the police would be handled at local level. For example, a rural canton that has little to no crime but has a major transportation route in the middle of town might heed more traffic police than criminal police. An urban city might need the latter.

 Cooperation is a big deal when dealing with cantons. Sometimes there are cantons that don’t have the resources to deal with certain circumstances. So to make sure all cantons are covered in case of an emergence, different police forces sign a number of agreements between each other to make sure they map out the mechanisms of cooperation. After every thing has been agreed on, they are pushed through to the cantonal parliaments, and if everything is passes, the cantonal(s) now have the force of the law. Things don’t always go as planned though. Sometimes the CCJPD, Cantonal Conference of Justice and Police Directors, can’t find a solution to every problem because of different point of views. There are some agreements that the CCJPD hopes everyone will sign but some cantons can and will turn them down.

 When it comes to Switzerland, it is been shaped to have its citizens find solutions to their own problems since 1848. Switzerland has been a federal state; only second to the United States and 27th in the world. Switzerland is a Confederation 26 canton(s). To name a couple: Aargau (AG), Basel-Landschaft (BL), Bern (BE), Genève (GE), Jura (JU), Uri (UR), and many more. Switzerland has a structure of three different political levels: The Confederation, The Cantons, and The Municipalities.

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 On the Federal level, Switzerland has a Constitution like the United States, it is the foundation and it “contains the more important rules for the good functioning of the state.” It guarantees the basic rights of the people and the participation of he people. The Constitution also distributes tasks to and from the Confederation and the cantons, as well as clarifies the roles and responsibilities of the authorities. The Confederation has authority in all areas that affect the Swiss citizens through the Constitution. For example, foreign and security policy, and customs and monetary policy, which all have a common interest of the citizens. Situations that do not fall in the competence of the Confederation would be handled at the cantons level. There are three federal authorities: the Federal Assembly (Parliament), the Federal Council (Executive), and the Federal Courts (Judiciary). The Swiss Federal Parliament has two chambers, the National Council (House of Representatives), totaling to 200 representatives, which is proportional to the population of each canton. The Council of States (Senate) totals to 46 Senators, 2 for each canton and 1 for each half canton) The Federal Government consists of seven members of the Federal Council, they are elected by the Federal Assembly for a 4 year term and each Federal Counselor heads a department. There are seven different Federal departments: Department of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Justice and Police, Defense, Civil Protection and Sports, Finance, Economic Affairs, Education and Research, Environmental Transportation, Energy, and Communications. Last but certainly not least is the Federal Judiciary (the Courts). The Judiciary is made up of the Supreme Court, the Criminal Court, the Administrative Court, and the Patent Court.

 The Supreme Court usually sits in a committee of 3 or 5 judges, depending on the situation at hand. They also act as an “Appeals Court” that review cases that have been decided by a lower court. The Criminal Court is a trial court that deals with federal cases on a first basis, when it is specifically their jurisdiction. The Administrative Court acts as an appeal body that review decisions for their court and cantonal officers. The Patent Court is for legal issues regarding legal protections, such as copyrights, civil law disputes, and patent validity. The Federal Assembly appoints a Federal Judges in Switzerland and judges can hold office for up to 6 years.

 On the cantonal level, each canton and a half canton has a constitution, parliament, government, and courts. The Parliament or each cantonal has between 58 and 200 seats and the government has 5, 7, and 9 members. Landsgemeinde is defined as, open-air assemblies of citizens. There is only two cantons that has this direct democracy, which is Appenzell-Innerrhoden and Glarus. All the other cantons make their decisions and the ballot box. The Cantons are also organized in two levels of their judiciary. The first would be the civil, criminal, and administrative courts of first occurrence and usually has one judge presiding over the cases; the second would be of appeals and it has a committee of 3 judges. Last is the Municipal level, which all cantons are divided into. One fifth of local authorities have their own parliament and the other four fifths make their decisions through the direct democracy in a local assembly. As well as being responsible for tasks given to them by the Confederation and the cantons, they also have a worry about their own tasks for education, social welfare, road building, taxation, and other things of that nature that are self regulated by each canton. The self-governing scope is determined by each canton and widely varies.

 In the year of 2003, there was understood to be a total of 166 institutions in Switzerland. Most of these institutions were local or regional jails, which serve as investigatory or administrative detentions. This is the equivalent of a pretrial detention. In these institutions, you can be held for deportation, extradition, or police holds, which last less than 24 hours. Thirty of the 166 institutions housed inmates with sentences longer than 6 months while the remaining housed inmates with sentences shorted than the 6 months. The total capacity of jails and prisons totaled up to be 6,513. The amount of spaces reserved for inmates serving forced sentences was 4,200. 1,500 were spaced used for those in pretrial detentions, 800 others were held on other kinds of custody.

 There are fiver general types of custody facilities. The first tupe is police custody; this facility is housed in the police station and has on or two holding cells. This facility is similar to the facilities in the United States. The police may hold a person in custody for up to 24 hours. During this time, a judge can decide whether to release or continue to hold the detainee, the detainee can also appeal this decision. If the offender is held then they would be transferred to a detention center, which is the second type of facility. Detention centers are regional or district jails that are closed institutions that hold people for investigation or individuals serving sentences less than 12 months. Swiss law distinguishes between three different terms. Terms of detention, which is a sentence of one day to three months, A short-incarceration term, which is a sentence of three days to three months, and a prison term, which is a sentence of three months to 12 months.

 The third type of facility is a closed institution, which is referred to in German as “Anstalt.” This institution is for dangerous offenders serving sentences longer than 12 months; they may also be a flight risk. These closed institutions are maximum security and there are 7 of them located in Switzerland. Not only do they house criminal offenders, but also they house the criminally insane. The fourth facility is an open institution, this is a minimum-security prison for prisoners that don’t pose a threat and aren’t considered flight risks. This institution offers more opportunities for work experience, visits, treatments, and counseling. Offenders are also taught skills needed for living on the outside of the wall. The fifth and final facility is called the Measures institution. This is a special sanction designated by the Swiss Criminal Code. The Measures institution houses inmates suffering from psychiatric imbalances and/or addictions. Measure facilities are usually open and concentrate on therapeutic treatment for inmates.

Recent Issues of Crime

 While researching the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, I came across a couple of interesting facts. When totaling up the grand total of recorded crimes between 2001 and 2002 in Switzerland, it increased by 32,040. But their overall total is way lower than the United States and the United Kingdom. The United States is over 11 million for overall crime and the Unites Kingdom was over 6 million, while Switzerland is barely breaking 300,000. The total numbers of heft from 2001 to 2002 increased by 24,182., and the rate per 100,000 increased by 318.14. Automotive theft also increased by 500 but Switzerland was among the lowest for that category within that for the most crimes, Switzerland either stayed on the low end or in the middle of every country when it came to different crimes.

 I used United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime from 2005 to 2006, and the grand total of crimes decreases by 15,114. I think that’s great considering there was in increase in 2002. Intentional completed homicide decreased as well between those years by 15. Total recorded assaults, assault suspects, rapes, thefts, and theft suspects also decreased between the year of 2005 and 2006. In general for most crimes in 2005 to 2006 decreased in Switzerland.

 Theft is a common occurrence in Switzerland. In the year of 2017, it decreased or the theft protection is starting to get better. There were fewer break-ins but tin the year of 2012, there was a report of more than 200 cases of theft and 127 cases in the year of 2016. That is not the only crime decreasing, the total of all cries have been dropping since 2012. Crimes statistics in the Swiss was reported at 612,000 criminal acts in 2012, but that number has dropped to 448,000 and that’s where it stands. Also, the number of juveniles violating criminal code dropped to almost half since the start of statistics in 2009.


Areas of Comparison with the U.S.

 The system that I decided to focus on for the comparison is the court. When researching Switzerland courts system, I notice that was a lot of similarities as well as differences. The Cantonal (state) level for Switzerland is basically like ours. In the United States, the states get to make decisions on many different things like education and local planning. These are tasks that the federal government has entrusted to the states to take care of. Another similarity that I feel like the United States and Switzerland has in come is the way we vote. The Swiss gets to votes within there canton while the states in the U.S. gets to vote in a new Governor as well as other things.

 The difference that I noticed is with the officers. When it comes to the Switzerland officers, they are more trained to know what’s better for that canton and what they don’t have to deal with because they would in a canton where there is less crime. But with the officers in the United States, they can maneuver through different jurisdictions if y they needed to because they all have the same training. Another difference I noticed was that Switzerland officers are trained to where they can go straight up to federal and get a career but United States officers would have to go through another set of training. 

Summary and Conclusion

 To summarize, Switzerland is a neutral state that joined the confederation in 1948 and are apart of the United Nation and international affairs but they always seem to stay neutral throughout the issues. Education is a big part of the culture of Switzerland and learning how those different parts interconnect and how you can choose what you want to be while still being young is so cool. There were man different political parties and it showed that there is a place for every citizen in this population. The Constitution that the United States has, has basically shaped the way for the Swiss, learning that each canton basically has there only government, as well as there own constitution is really interesting. I think the fact of Switzerland being a neutral country overall helps with the crime rate.

 In conclusion, I chose Switzerland because I wanted to know how the neutral country handled their criminal justice system and the citizens that live within them. I learned so much about their educational system as well as their corrections system. I also learned that they are like any other country, and they have there criminal and crime rates just like everyone else. It was interesting to find out that there are different levels of elementary school and those higher levels are basically what the United Stated would call High School. Overall, I learned a lot from researching this country and I would love to continue on and learning more about what happens inside the country line, as well as the surrounding countries.



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