Discuss in detail the rights and duties of citizens in the Swiss Constitution.

(1) Introduction

Two aspects of citizenship are rights and duties. Rights mean what a citizen owns while duties mean what a citizen owes In dictatorship, only duties are imposed on the citizens. It is in democracy that citizens not only fulfill their duties, but also enjoy their rights. In democracy, every right has a corresponding duty. The Swiss Constitution grants several fundamental rights to the Swiss citizens and imposes some duties upon them too.

(2) Rights & Duties In Swiss Constitution

Chapter I of Title Two of the Swiss Constitutions describes the rights and duties:

  1. (i) Human dignity
  2. (ii) Equality before law
  3. (iii) Protection against arbitrary conduct & principle of good faith
  4. (iv) Right to life
  5. (v) Right to personal freedom
  6. (vi) Torture & cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment
  7. (vii) Protection of children & young people
  8. (viii) Right to assistance,
  9. (ix) Right to privacy
  10. (x) Right to marry & to have family
  11. (xi) Freedom of religion & conscience
  12. (xii) Freedom of expression & information
  13. (xiii) Freedom of media
  14. (xiv) to use any language
  15. (xv) Right to basic education
  16. (xvi) Academic freedom
  17. (xvii) Freedom of artistic expression
  18. (xviii) Freedom of assembly
  19. (xix) Freedom of association
  20. (xx) Freedom of domicile
  21. (xxi) Right to entry & leave
  22. (xxii) Protection against expulsion, extradition & deportation
  23. (xxiii) Right to own property
  24. (xxiv) Economic freedom
  25. (xxv) Right to form professional associations
  26. (xxvi) General procedural guarantees
  27. (xxvii) Guarantee of access to courts
  28. (xxviii) Judicial proceedings
  29. (xxix) Deprivation of liberty (xxx) Criminal proceedings
  30. (xxxi) Right of petition
  31. (xxxii) Political rights
  32. (xxxiii) Upholding of fundamental rights
  33. (xxxiv) Restrictions on fundamental rights

(i) Human Dignity

Article 7 states that human dignity must be respected and protected.

(ii) Equality Before Law

Article 8 narrates that every person is equal before the law:

(a) Discrimination

  • (b) Equal rights for men & women
  • (c) Elimination of inequalities

(a) Discrimination

No person can be discriminated on grounds of origin, race, gender, age, language, social position, way of life, religious, ideological, or political convictions. He cannot also be discriminated because of a physical, mental or psychological disability.

(b) Equal Rights For Men & Women

Men and women have equal rights.

(c) Elimination Of Inequalities

The law is to provide for the elimination of inequalities that affect persons with disabilities.

(iii) Protection Against Arbitrary Conduct & Principle Of Good Faith

Article 9 describes that every person has the right to be treated by state authorities in good faith and in a non-arbitrary imanner.

(iv) Right To Life

Article 10 settles that every person has the right to life. The death penalty is prohibited.

(v) Right To Personal Freedom

Article 10 decides that every person has the right to personal liberty.

(vi) Torture & Cruel, Inhuman Or Degrading Treatment Or Punishment

Article 10 also states that Torture and any other form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment are prohibited.

(vii) Protection Of Children & Young People

Article 11 narrates that children and young people have the right to the special protection of their integrity and to the encouragement of their development.

(viii) Right To Assistance

Article 12 describes that persons, who are in need and unable to provide for themselves, not only have the right to assistance and care, but also have right to the financial means, which are required for a decent standard of living.

(ix) Right To Privacy

Article 13 settles that every person has right to privacy in his private and family life and in his home, and in relation to his mail and telecommunications.

(x) Right To Marry & To Have Family

Article 14 guarantees the right to marry and to have a family.

(xi) Freedom Of Religion & Conscience

Article 15 guarantees freedom of religion and conscience; every person has the right to choose freely his religion or his philosophical convictions, and to profess them alone or in community with others.

(xii) Freedom Of Expression & Information

Article 16 guarantees freedom of expression and information:

  • (a) Freedom Of Expression
  • (b) Freedom Of Information

(a) Freedom Of Expression

Every person has the right freely to form, express, and impart his opinions.

(b) Freedom Of Information

Every person has the right freely to receive information and to spread it.

(xiii) Freedom Of Media

Article 17 guarantees freedom of the press radio and television and of other forms of dissemination of features and information by means of public telecommunications. It also prohibits censorship.

(xiv) Freedom To Use Any Language

Article 18 guarantees the freedom to use any language.

(xv) Right To Basic Education

Article 19 guarantees the right to an adequate and free basic education.

(xvi) Academic Freedom’

Article 20 guarantees freedom of research and teaching.

(xvii) Freedom Of Artistic Expression

Article 21 guarantees freedom of artistic expression.

(xviii) Freedom Of Assembly

Article 22 guarantees freedom of assembly; every person has the right to organize meetings and to participate or not to participate in meetings.

(xix) Freedom Of Association

Article 23 guarantees freedom of association; every person has the right to form, join or belong to an association and to participate in the activities of an association.

(xx) Freedom Of Domicile

Article 24 decides that Swiss citizens have the right to establish their domicile anywhere in the country.

(xxi) Right To Entry & Leave

Article 24 also states that the Swiss citizens have the right to leave or to enter Switzerland.

(xxii) Protection Against Expulsion, Extradition & Deportation

Article 25 provides for protection against expulsion, extradition and deportation:

  • (a) Swiss citizens
  • (b) Refugees
  • (c) Person

(a) Swiss Citizens

Swiss citizens cannot be expelled from Switzerland and can only be extradited to a foreign authority with their consent.

(b) Refugees

Refugees cannot be deported or extradited to a state in which they will be persecuted.

(c) Person

A person cannot be deported to a state in which he faces the threat of torture or any other form of cruel or inhumane treatment or punishment.

(xxiii) Right To Own Property

Article 26 guarantees right to own property.

(xxiv) Economic Freedom

Article 27 guarantees economic freedom; economic freedom includes the freedom to choose an occupation and the freedom to pursue a private economic activity.

(xxv) Right To Form Professional Associations

Article 28 narrates that employees, employers and their organizations have the right to join together, to form associations and to join or not to join such associations.

(xxvi) General Procedural Guarantees

Article 29 provides general procedural guarantees:

  • (a) Right to equal & fair treatment
  • (b) Decision within reasonable time
  • (c) Right to hearing
  • (d) Right to free legal advice & assistance

(a) Right To Equal & Fair Treatment

Every person has the right to equal and fair treatment in Judicial and administrative proceedings.

(b) Decision Within Reasonable Time

Every person has the right to have his case decided within a reasonable time.

(c) Right To Hearing

Each party to a case has the right of hearing.

(d) Right To Free Legal Advice & Assistance

Any person, who does not have sufficient means, has the right to free legal advice and assistance.

(xxvii) Guarantee Of Access To Courts

Article 29a describes that, in a legal dispute, every person has the right that his case must be determined by a judicial authority.

(xxviii) Judicial Proceedings

Article 30 settles that any person whose case is to be judicially decided has the right that his case must be heard by a legally constituted, competent, independent and impartial court. This article prohibits ad hoc courts.

(xxix) Deprivation Of Liberty

Article 31 decides that no person can be deprived of his liberty. However, his liberty can be deprived in the circumstances and in the manner that law specifies.

(xx) Criminal Proceedings

Article 32 provides for criminal proceedings:

  • (a) Innocent
  • (b) Right to defence
  • (c) Right to review

(a) Innocent

Every person is presumed innocent until he has been found guilty by a legally enforceable judgment.

(b) Right To Defence

Every accused person must be given the opportunity to assert their rights to a proper defence.

(c) Right To Review

Every convicted person has the right that his conviction must be reviewed by a high court.

(xxxi) Right Of Petition

Article 33 states the every person has the right to petition the authorities.

(xxxii) Political Rights

Article 34 guarantees political rights.

(xxxiii) Upholding Of Fundamental Rights

Article 35 narrates that fundamental rights must be upheld throughout the legal system.

(xxxiv) Restrictions On Fundamental Rights

Article 36 describes that restrictions on fundamental rights must have a legal basis.

(3) Conclusion

It can be finally stated that the Swiss Constitution is not only democratic, but is also realistic in its nature. Its democratic nature is revealed from the manner in which it provides fundamental rights and mentions the duties. And its realistic aspect appears from the fact that it imposes restrictions on fundamental rights in the public interest and for the protection of the fundamental rights of others. In fact, such restrictions check the misuse of fundamental rights.


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