The PSSA entered into force on 1 September 2015. Since that date, companies intending to provide private security services abroad from Switzerland are required to provide a prior declaration to the competent authority. The Private Security Services Section of the Directorate of Political Affairs of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) is the authority responsible for the implementation of the new federal act. Art. 37 PSSA stipulates that the section submit an annual report on its activities to the Federal Council, which took note of the present report during its meeting of 11 April 2018. The report is available on the FDFA website.
In 2017, the Private Security Services Section received around 450 declarations that primarily concern three groups of activities: protecting persons and guarding goods and properties in complex environments, private intelligence services, and support for armed or security forces. In terms of geographical distribution, the report noted a concentration of activities subject to the federal act in North Africa and the Middle East – about half of the reported activities – as well as Europe and Central Asia.
The Private Security Services Section initiated 18 review procedures. In 13 instances, the company was allowed to carry out the declared activity. In three further instances, the companies withdrew their declaration following the opening of the review procedure and decided not to pursue the planned activity. In the last two instances, the section prohibited the declared activity.
No activities prohibited under Arts. 8 and 9 PSSA were identified, which means that the competent authority did not receive information about private security services involving direct participation in hostilities or which could result in serious human rights violations were reported to the authority.
In its report, the Private Security Services Section gave a positive assessment of its activities in 2017. The importance of the oversight mechanism for private security services abroad introduced by the PSSA is gaining wider acceptance and recognition. In addition to handling declarations of private security companies subject to the federal act, one of the main responsibilities of the Private Security Services Section was to provide information and raise awareness among companies that could be concerned by the law. The section continued to consolidate its practices with regard to the scope of application of the federal act and the concept of private security services. An update of the PSSA guidelines was launched in 2017 and will be finalized in 2018.
At the international level, the Private Security Services Section took part in the dialogue on standards for private security companies and on oversight mechanisms relating to their activities.
The rapid spread of new technologies and increasing use of cyberspace in the field of private security are presenting important new challenges that the section will have to face in 2018. Building on its experience therefore, it is planning to create an overview of the private security sector, the dynamics involved and the challenges of implementing the PSSA.
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