Combating terrorism more effectively - Federal Council preparing to ratify two UN Conventions

Bern, 26.06.2003 - Switzerland will ratify the last two UN Conventions on the combating of terrorism at the end of September. This will increase the effectiveness of efforts to suppress terrorism financing and terrorist bombings. Today, the Federal Council also enacted the necessary changes to the Swiss Penal Code, effective as of 1 October 2003.

The importance of international cooperation in the prevention and combating of terrorism has grown beyond measure since the terrorist attacks on the USA on 11 September 2001. Under international law, the framework for these tasks is provided specifically by twelve UN Conventions and additional protocols on combating terrorism. Switzerland has already ratified and implemented ten of these Conventions. With its accession to the remaining two, against the financing of terrorism and against terrorist bombings, the Federal Council wishes to ensure that Switzerland does not become an attractive country for terrorists and those who support terrorist activities.

Preventing and combating terrorist attacks

The Convention for the Suppression of Terrorist Bombings obliges States Parties to punish the originators of or those party to attacks conducted using explosives or other lethal substances, such as toxic chemicals or biological weapons. It also sets out provisions for international cooperation in the prevention and combating of terrorist attacks. The Convention is compatible with Swiss law currently in force and does not give rise to any additional obligations.

Depriving terrorism of its financial base

The Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism extends liability to prosecution to the preliminary stages of terrorist activity in order to deprive terrorism of its financial base. A series of preventive and repressive measures are intended to prevent financial transactions which might otherwise contribute to the successful execution of terrorist operations. Switzerland signed the Convention two years ago. Its ratification will ensure that the Swiss financial centre cannot be abused for the financing of terrorist activities.

New criminal offences

By putting two new criminal offences on the statute books as of 1 October 2003, the Federal Council has ensured that Switzerland can fulfil its obligations under the Convention for the Suppression of Terrorism Financing: Under the offence of terrorism financing, a person is punishable if they collect or provide assets in order to support the commission of terrorist offences. In addition, the provision on the responsibility of corporations, which has already been redrafted as part of the revision of the General Part of the Swiss Penal Code, will also be extended to cover the financing of terrorism.

Identifying the users of prepaid cards

As part of the debate on the ratification and implementation of the Conventions against terrorism, the Swiss Parliament added a provision to the Federal Mail and Telecommunications Monitoring Act (Bundesgesetz betreffend die Überwachung des Post- und Fernmeldeverkehrs (BÜPF)) that makes the identification of users of prepaid telephone cards mandatory. This regulation requires the providers of telecommunications services to be able to provide information on the users of prepaid cards (name, address and, if known, occupation) within at least two years of the start of the provider-customer relationship. This arrangement meets a need that has arisen on the part of the prosecuting authorities owing to the increasingly anonymous use of prepaid cards by criminals, as well as the fact that Swiss prepaid cards are also being used in terrorist circles. The provision is not required for the implementation of the two UN Conventions, however, and will not enter into force until 1 July 2004. The Federal Department of Energy, Transport, Energy and Telecommunications (DETEC) is thus granted sufficient time in which to implement the provision alongside the providers of telecommunications services and representatives of the prosecuting authorities.

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Last modification 24.04.2023

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