According to the human rights watchdog Amnesty International, the measures taken by the Swiss government in response to the pandemic placed disproportionate restrictions on freedom of expression.
The organisation was also critical of Switzerland’s temporary suspension of asylum demands during the pandemic.
Between March and June 2020, the Swiss government used exceptional powers in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and this impacted on free movement and the freedom to gather. At the beginning of the pandemic the police, who were not given clear guidance, disproportionately restricted peaceful public protest, according to the organisation. Some cantons fined protestors.
The NGO also criticised Switzerland for suspending the registration of asylum requests for all but the vulnerable when it closed its border with Italy between mid-March and mid-May 2020.
Amnesty called for international cooperation and criticised the retreat towards greater nationalism during the pandemic. “We can only overcome these challenges if we cooperate at an international level. The members of the G20 and financial institutions must reduce the debt of the 77 poorest nations so that they can take the necessary measures to recover after the pandemic”, said Alexandra Karle, director of Amnesty International Switzerland in a press release. In addition, rich countries must also ensure Covid-19 vaccines are available to everyone everywhere for free, according to the NGO.