BERN, SWITZERLAND – One of Switzerland’s most famous historical roles, as a supplier of mercenaries to the world’s armies, will soon come to an end, with the federal government saying 29 August it is asking the Police and Justice Department to draft legislation making it illegal for Swiss companies or individuals to take part in armed conflicts elsewhere.
Switzerland itself has been neutral for centuries, but many of its citizens, especially the poor or sons who would not inherit, sought their fortunes in the past by fighting for pay in other armies. More recently, security companies have been questioned about their roles, often unclear, in foreign armed conflicts.
A public consultation by Bern made it clear that the Swiss want to ban mercenaries, but the cantons have insisted that any new law apply outside the country only: laws governing police and security guards are the domain of the cantons, not the federal government.
The new law will oblige security companies to declare all their activities abroad and will ban any activities related to conflicts that could harm neutral Switzerland’s interests.