New federal law on the ban on concealing the face

The Federal Council intends to implement the constitutional article on the ban on concealing one's face in a new federal law. At its meeting on 12 October 2022, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the Federal Act on the Prohibition of Concealing the Face. A person who conceals his or her face in public places will be liable to a fine of up to 1,000 francs.

During the consultation on the draft bill, the Federal Council's proposal to translate the constitutional article on the ban on concealing one's face, which was adopted by popular vote on 7 March 2021, into a federal act was applauded. What was criticized was the fact that it was planned to do this by amending the criminal code, which is why the Federal Council is now proposing to Parliament that the ban be implemented in an independent law. This solution is better suited to achieving the aim of the ban, namely to guarantee public safety and order. Sanctioning is not the primary concern.
Fine of up to 1000 francs

The new law prohibits a person from concealing his or her face in places accessible to the public. Any offender is liable to a fine. While the maximum fine was set at 10,000 francs in the preliminary draft, it has been reduced to 1,000 francs. Criticism that the maximum amount was disproportionate has been heard. The possibility of using the order fine procedure to punish violations of the ban on concealing the face is also new: it reduces the burden on the cantons and simplifies the procedure for those involved.
Exceptions provided for by the law

The ban on concealing one's face does not apply on board aircraft in Switzerland and abroad, nor in premises used for diplomatic and consular relations. It will also be possible to conceal the face in churches and other places of worship. The law provides for other exemptions: concealment of the face will continue to be permitted for reasons of health, safety, climatic conditions or local customs, for artistic or entertainment purposes, or for advertising purposes.

The Federal Council has also provided for an exception to reconcile the ban with respect for the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights of freedom of opinion and freedom of assembly: concealment of the face will be permitted in public places if it is necessary for the protection of persons exercising these fundamental rights - provided that the competent authority has given prior authorization and provided that public security and order are not compromised.

The transitional provision relating to the constitutional article on the ban on concealment of the face gives the Federal Council two years from the popular vote of 7 March 2021 to draw up the necessary implementing provisions. By transmitting its message to Parliament on 12 October 2022, the Federal Council has met the deadline.

Source: Federal Council communiqué of 12 October 2022


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