The FDFA does not support any organisations that advocate violence
The promotion of human rights and respect for international law are essential pillars of Switzerland's foreign policy. Switzerland supports various projects and organisations to this end. Among these is the NGO Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners. As the NGO has been accused of having close ties with a terrorist organisation, the head of the FDFA, Ignazio Cassis, had the accusations investigated by the department in January 2020. The investigation was unable to confirm any of the allegations. Based on the information currently available to the FDFA, there are no grounds to terminate funding to Addameer.
As part of efforts to strengthen human rights, Switzerland advocates for the rights of people who are in prison. © Deleece Cook/Unsplash
Switzerland is committed worldwide to promoting human rights and respect for international law. Supporting legal aid to protect prisoners from mistreatment and torture and to prevent evidence obtained under coercion from being used in trials is one of the many ways it does this.
Accusations against Addameer
The NGO Addameer is an organisation that helps Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. Addameer is one of Switzerland's partners in the Middle East and will receive approximately USD 150,000 in funding from Switzerland this year.
The NGO has been accused on several occasions of having ties with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
Switzerland condemns any attempts to advocate violence or incite hatred
The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) takes accusations of misuse of Swiss funds or inappropriate conduct by project partners very seriously. Any attempt to advocate violence, incite racism or antisemitism or justify violations of international law or human rights would be counter to Switzerland's goals and interests. The Swiss Federal Constitution requires Switzerland to contribute to the peaceful coexistence of peoples. For this reason, Switzerland does not in any way support organisations that incite hatred, violence, racism or antisemitism.
Cooperation with external project partners is essential for the FDFA to achieve the goals of its foreign policy. Switzerland has effective control mechanisms to ensure that partner organisations use Swiss contributions exclusively for the activities provided for in their contracts. Controls include direct interviews, on-site visits and external audits and evaluations.
Working for peace in the context of the Middle East conflict is very politically challenging. In 2017, the FDFA strengthened its control mechanisms, including a strict anti-racism clause and specific audits. Any violation of these requirements entitles the FDFA to terminate the contract with the external partner and demand repayment of the funds already disbursed. The FDFA also carefully investigates all allegations made by third parties against a supported partner organisation and takes action if the allegations prove justified.
Switzerland will continue to support Addameer
The FDFA is aware of the accusations concerning Addameer. The FDFA has responded to these allegations on several occasions, most recently in January 2020, when Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis launched an investigation by the department and suspended payments to Addameer until a conclusion was reached. On the basis of the available information and the evidence against the current and former Addameer employees facing the allegations, the FDFA has concluded that the suspension or termination of funding to the NGO is not justified at this stage. The FDFA will therefore continue to work with this NGO.