Public Law Division

Appeals to the Federal Council

Appeals may be lodged with the Federal Council on matters of domestic and international security, as well as foreign policy. To the extent that the Federal Council is simultaneously a supervisory authority, it also handles complaints relating to supervision (see Arts. 72 to 74 of the Federal Administrative Procedure Act (Verwaltungsverfahrensgesetz); SR 172.021). The Public Law Division manages the appeal process and makes a recommendation to the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) on how the matter should be resolved. This is then passed on to the Federal Council. An exception is made in the case of complaints against the FDJP, which are handled by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF).

Legislation Projects Units I and II

Legislation Projects Units I and II are responsible for preparing public law enactments for which the FJDP is in overall charge. These are laws related to the functioning of state institutions, federalism and democracy; to the implementation of fundamental rights and, in general, to all matters that do not fall within the remit of any other department or area of management. Projects involve all legislative levels (Constitution, acts, ordinances). In addition, the two units help to improve the drafting and evaluation of legislation within the administration. They organise the legislation course and the legislation forum and develop legislative drafting tools for the administration (e.g. the guide on legislative drafting).

Legislation Projects Unit I mainly deals with legislation projects relating to the protection of personal data, equality (in particular the equal treatment of men and women), artificial intelligence, transparency in the Administration, transparency of political party funding, federalism, relations between the Confederation and the cantons, and regional autonomy. It also drafts dispatches guaranteeing cantonal constitutions and legislation on issues related to religion within federal jurisdiction. It is the Confederation’s point of contact for matters relating to religious freedom and ensures coordination between the federal services in this area.

Legislation Projects Unit II mainly deals with legislation projects relating to gambling, victim support and the law governing the legal profession. It also carries out oversight tasks in these three areas. Furthermore, it deals with issues relating to political rights, administrative procedure, such as administrative penalties, and to in-house lawyers.

Other issues can be assigned to either of the two units (e.g. government reform, organisation of the judiciary, etc.).

Legislation Units I and II

Legislation Units I and II are charged with essentially the same tasks, i.e. supervising the legislative projects of other agencies and offices. This means that the legal merits of everything that is to be set down in rules of law at the federal level (articles of the constitution, provisions of primary and secondary legislation) must be reviewed by these Units. Among the points examined are: Does the decree have a sufficient legal basis? Is it in accordance with fundamental rights and constitutional principles? Is it appropriate within the legal environment? Is it logically structured and worded in an understandable manner? Does it possess inherent inconsistencies or does it contradict existing law? Does it contain superfluous provisions?

Both Units work closely with the Federal Chancellery (Legal Service and Language Services) when it comes to legislative and editorial aspects. Both are also members of the government's internal Editorial Commission.

In addition to overseeing legislative projects, Legislation Units I and II are also commissioned to draft advisory opinions on constitutional and administrative law issues. Generally speaking, they examine the legal merits of matters to be submitted to the Federal Council. In so doing, they function as the central legal service to the Federal Council and Federal Administration. In some cases they are also involved in the treatment of legislative issues in parliamentary commissions.

Legislation Units I and II differ only in term of their "clientele": Unit I is primarily responsible for tasks assigned to it by the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA), the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sports (DDPS) and various units of the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP) (particularly police matters, laws pertaining to aliens, asylum law and regional planning) and the Federal Chancellery (e.g. governmental and administrative organisation). Unit II is mainly responsible for tasks assigned to it by the Federal Department of Finance (FDF), the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), the Federal Department of the Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications (DETEC), various units of the FDJP (particularly laws relating to industry and the economy) and the Federal Chancellery (e.g. political rights).

International Human Rights Unit

The International Human Rights Unit deals with legal questions on human rights both at international level (Council of Europe, United Nations) and at national level (incorporating human rights protection instruments into national law). Its tasks include compiling and submitting Switzerland’s periodic reports on the UN Pact II (the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), and assisting in compiling and presenting reports on other international human rights agreements by the respective lead agency. The unit also plays a part in international organisations‘ committees of experts on human rights issues, especially Council of Europe committees, in preparing the conferences of the European ministers of justice for the head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, and in supporting the work of the Swiss Centre of Expertise in Human Rights (SCHR).

The head of unit represents Switzerland at the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), on the UN Committee against Torture (CAT), on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and on the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

European Law and Schengen/Dublin Co-ordination Unit

The European Law and Schengen/Dublin Co-ordination Unit deals with legal questions concerning European integration. For example, the unit examines the Federal Council’s draft legislation and ordinances for their compatibility with bilateral agreements and European law, it compiles legal assessments and it participates in drafting federal legislation and parts of the Federal Council‘s messages dealing with bilateral agreements and European law. The unit is also involved in negotiations with the European Union and in federal working groups that support negotiations. In doing so, it collaborates closely with the competent federal agencies, with the directorates of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs responsible for European policy and law, and with the cantonal authorities.

On behalf of the FDJP the unit performs a co-ordination function within and between federal departments. It deals with issues concerning the evolvement, incorporation and implementation of Schengen and Dublin/Eurodac further developments, providing support in this area to the competent federal agencies. The unit also works together with other federal agencies in compiling Switzerland‘s responses in preliminary ruling procedures before the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) on the interpretation of Schengen and Dublin law.

Compulsory Social Measures Unit

Switzerland currently coming to terms with a bleak period in its social history: the treatment suffered by children and young people as a result of compulsory social measures and forced placements outside their families prior to 1981. The Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981 (CSMPA) came into force on 1 April 2017.

The CSMPA contains the legal basis for paying reparation to the victims of these measures. In recognition of the injustice that they suffered, and as an expression of social solidarity, victims are entitled to a payment of CHF 25,000. Applications for this solidarity payment should be submitted to and are assessed by the Compulsory Social Measures Unit.

The Compulsory Social Measures Unit also has a coordinating and supporting role, in particular in relation to self-help projects for victims and others who have been affected, and in connection with publicising and exploiting the results of research into compulsory social measures and placements.


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

Last modification 13.10.2022

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Federal Office of Justice
Public Law Division
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CH-3003 Bern
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