In the field of euthanasia/assisted suicide, the Federal Office of Justice is only responsible for legislative matters, in particular matters pertaining to criminal law. If you are having suicidal thoughts or know someone who is need of support, contact die Dargebotene Hand/ la Main tendue/ il Telefono Amico by calling 143 (www.143.ch); for children and young adults call 147 (www.147.ch). Calls are treated as confidential and are free of charge.
What is it about?
Switzerland's laws that prohibit killing continue to apply in full. Direct, active euthanasia (deliberate killing in order to end the suffering of another person) is therefore also forbidden. By contrast, both indirect, active euthanasia (the use of means having side-effects that may shorten life) and passive euthanasia (rejecting or discontinuing life-prolonging measures) – while not governed by any specific statutory provisions – are not treated as criminal offences provided certain conditions are fulfilled. No legislative action is needed with regard to these three forms of euthanasia. After several in-depth reviews of the situation, the Federal Council has come to the conclusion that criminal law in Switzerland does not require any explicit provisions on organised assisted suicide, as any abuses that may occur can be combated effectively by existing legal means.
What has happened so far?
- On 31 May 2006, the Federal Council acknowledges the "Euthanasia and Palliative Care – Does the Confederation Need to Act?" report. It recommends that the Swiss parliament should not pursue a revision of the relevant provisions of the Penal Code and should not enact any new legislation on the authorization and supervision of assisted suicide organizations (press release).
- On 29 August 2007, the Federal Council acknowledges the supplementary report on euthanasia (press release).
- On 28 October 2009, the Federal Council presents two draft bills for consultations in the Swiss parliament. Both bills would institute specific laws on organised assisted suicide (press release).
- On 17 September 2010, the Federal Council acknowledges the results of consultation process and instructs the FDJP to draft a dispatch (press release).
- On 29 June 2011, the Federal Council decides to refrain from including specific regulations on organised assisted suicide in criminal law. Nevertheless, he indends to continue promoting suicide prevention una palliative care with a view to reducing the number of suicides (press release).
For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.
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Last modification 29.06.2011
Federal Office of Justice
Criminal Law Division
T +41 58 462 41 19
F +41 58 462 78 79