National Council wants to guarantee media freedom in the Swiss financial center

Media freedom in financial center matters should be guaranteed. On Monday, the National Council supported a motion of its Economic Commission along these lines. The Federal Council is prepared to examine whether the Banking Act needs to be amended. Now the Council of States still has to decide.

NationalratbundeThe motion was penned by the National Council's Economic Committee (WAK-N) and relates to the so-called "Suisse Secrets". The large chamber approved it by 113 votes to 78. Representatives of the center and the SVP were against.

The opposing minority fears that the privacy of bank customers could be violated, even if there is no public interest for media research.

Neither research nor reporting would be made impossible or restricted today, said Martin Landolt (center/GL) on behalf of the minority. Clarifications had shown that Tamedia could have participated in the research without any problems.

The motion calls for immunity from prosecution for media work done in good faith. This is to ensure that media work on the financial center cannot be affected by deterrence or criminal sanctions if journalists and reporters act in good faith.

The Federal Council supported the motion. The freedom of the media guaranteed in the Federal Constitution is important to it, as it wrote in its response to the motion. It declared itself willing to carry out the requested examination and, if necessary, to propose the necessary amendments to the law.

No collaboration with "Suisse Secrets

The impetus for the motion was the "Suisse Secrets," which an international research network uncovered about a year ago. The reports accused the big bank CS of having accepted autocrats, drug dealers and suspected war criminals and human traffickers as clients for years.

Tamedia newspapers could not participate in the research network because of an article in the Banking Act. Swiss journalists face sanctions if they report on revelations based on stolen or leaked data. The penalty amounts to up to three years' imprisonment.

According to Irene Khan, UN Rapporteur on Freedom of the Press, the article in question in the Banking Law violates human rights and freedom of the press. In May 2022, Khan had said in an interview with the Tages-Anzeiger spoke of an example of criminalization of journalism.

The WAK-N had submitted its motion in the course of the debate on two parliamentary initiatives of the SP parliamentary group and Raphaël Mahaim (Greens/VD) on the topic. The WAK-N judged both to be too narrowly defined. The initiatives were withdrawn. (SDA)

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