Thematic Cluster Police and Justice

The Police and Justice Cluster of the SCHR studies the human rights obligations in the areas Police, Custody and Justice. Numerous human rights agreements, such as the ECHR, the UN Covenant II or the Convention against Torture, stipulate a range of guarantees regarding the protection of persons in custody, during legal proceedings or the exercise of public force. Moreover, Switzerland is a contracting party to European and global agreements for the prevention of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment that include monitoring and investigations by independent bodies. On several occasions international entities have observed implementation difficulties in the Police and Justice environment in Switzerland. In this context, the following issues represent the focal points for the SCHR:

  • Use of force by the police (use of fire arms, outsourcing of public safety duties to private entities, legal remedies in case of abuse)
  • Introducing detention conditions that are compatible with human rights standards
  • Guaranteeing procedural rights
  • Implementation of human rights obligations by the executive and in particular offering individuals the possibility to invoke commercial, social or cultural human rights.

Competencies of the Institution

The Institute for Public Law at the University of Bern manages Police, Custody and Justice Cluster for the SCHR. It has a proven track record in the areas of torture prevention, delegation of police duties, judicial reform and the domestic implementation of international human rights (justiciability). The institute stands out thanks to its extensive expert witness activities for the Confederation, the UN and various NGOs. Furthermore, it gained years of experience in the area of human rights education for professionals in the field. As a result of all of these activities it was able to build an extensive national and international network in the community.


The Police and Justice Cluster will provide services by order of interested circles (e.g. federal administration, cantons, municipalities, private entities, ombudspersons, victim aid centers or other) with regard to Police, Custody and Justice matters and thus support central actors in the correct implementation of human rights standards in Switzerland. Depending on the mandate various forms of cooperation may be considered, among others the documentation and evaluation of implementation practices, consultative services, development of application-oriented studies, continuing education and research relevant to the professionals in the field.