Activity report 2015–16 on the implementation of the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad

Press release, 26.04.2017

The authority in charge of implementing the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA) has published its first activity report, covering the period from September 2015 to December 2016. It reviewed some 300 declarations by private security companies.

The PSSA entered into force on 1 September 2015. Since that date, companies intending to provide private security services from Switzerland have been required to provide prior notification to the competent authority, which is the Private Security Services Section of the Directorate of Political Affairs of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA). Art. 37 PSSA stipulates that the competent authority delivers an annual report on its activities to the Federal Council.  This report is available on the FDFA website.

In addition to handling declarations submitted by private security companies, one of the main tasks of the competent authority was to provide information and raise awareness among companies covered by the act. It clarified the scope of application of the PSSA and the definition of private security services, and for this purpose drew up a Guide to the PSSA for companies.

At the international level, the competent authority took part in the dialogue on standards for private security companies and on oversight mechanisms for their activities.

Some 300 declarations were submitted to the competent authority. These fall mainly into three groups of activities: the protection of persons and the guarding or surveillance of goods and properties in complex environments, private intelligence services, and support for armed or security forces. No decisive geographic trends can be identified at this time.

Six review procedures were initiated by the authority. In two instances, a company was allowed to pursue the declared activity. Two companies withdrew their declaration following the opening of the review procedure and decided not to pursue the planned activity. In one instance, the competent authority prohibited the declared activity. One procedure was still pending at the end of the period under review. 
The competent authority did not identify activities prohibited by law under Arts. 8 and 9 of the PSSA. No private security services involving direct participation in hostilities or which could result in serious human rights violations were reported. In its report, the authority gives a positive assessment of the first 16 months of the implementation of the PSSA. The importance of the oversight mechanism for private security services abroad introduced by the PSSA is widely recognised. 

In 2017 the competent authority intends to give more visibility to the PSSA, its objectives and requirements, to ensure that it is better understood and accepted by all stakeholders. It will continue to support the steps taken by the federal government to provide better oversight over the activities of private security companies.

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The Federal Council
Federal Department of Foreign Affairs