29 May 2009

Initiative to Promote Accountability by the Swiss Government.

South African civil society groupings and individuals are calling on the Swiss government to respond to the findings of research that it commissioned in 2001 into Swiss foreign and economic policy towards apartheid South Africa. The Kreis Report was released in October 2005, yet the Swiss government has publicly stated it will not respond to its findings or the further questions raised by the research. The research process was frustrated by rules that were introduced by the Swiss government in 2003 to restrict access to Federal Archives.Despite this, the report provides insight into Swiss engagements relating to;

  • Gold dealing
  • Financial exports
  • The arms trade and military cooperation
  • Sanction busting
  • Support for South Africa's nuclear and chemical and biological weapons programme

How and the extent to which Swiss policy prolonged the life of the apartheid regime remains moot. It is clear, however, that support increased at a time when the South African government was under greatest pressure in the mid to late 1980s, a time also characterised by an intensification of repression and the perpetration of human rights violations. When the Swiss government commissioned this research, it explained that it was necessary to undertake a process of factual clarification regarding Swiss policy towards South Africa.It seems, however, that in light of the research findings the Swiss government are now unwilling to discuss what has been clarified and what still requires attention. Consequently, it has refused to even acknowledge, let alone take responsibility for the actions of its predecessors.

This intervention is designed to address this inaction, and calls on the Swiss Federal Council to respond to the report and its contents.Please read the explanatory note providing some background to this initiative and the memorandum that will be delivered by Yasmin Sooka (Foundation for Human Rights), Jody Kollapen (South African Human Rights Commission) and Marjorie Jobson (Khulumani Support Group) to Ambassador Baerfuss on the afternoon of 31 March in Pretoria.

Please let Piers Pigou (director@saha.org.za) know if we can add your name and / or the name of your organisation to the memorandum.