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Switzerland
Source
: National Report on the Implementation of the PoA and the ITI, 2008 and 2010 
Date
: 06/05/2011
National Report
: 2010
 
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National laws, regulations and administrative procedures:

Article 18(a), para. 1 of the Weapons Act (WA) which entered into force on 12 December 2008, requires manufacturers of firearms, essential components thereof, and weapons accessories to mark such items individually and thus render them identifiable and traceable. Under article 33, para.1(f) WA, manufacturers and arms traders not observing the legal marking requirement are liable to imprisonment not exceeding three years or a fine. If done with intent and profit, such acts are punishable by imprisonment not exceeding five years. It is foreseen that on 28 July 2010 a revision of the weapons act will enter into force and will bring further improvements regarding marking, registration and recordkeeping of firearms. Switzerland is currently adapting its WA to the requirements of the Schengen Agreement.

 

 
 
 


National Marking Practices:

Article 31, para. 1 of the Weapons Ordinance (WO)2 specifies the marking. It must consist of a unique numeric or alphanumeric code and must provide the country of manufacture or the name of the manufacturer and the year of manufacturing. It is foreseen that the revision will enter into force on 28th July 2010. The serial number for "personal long guns or handguns", as well as for "collective long guns or handguns" - which above all consist of pistols and assault rifles – is based on the General Staff Directives of 1977, which were published at the time of the acquisition of the 9 mm model 75 pistol. This numbering system makes it possible to identify a weapon exclusively by means of the weapon number (first digit) without knowledge of the type of weapon. Moreover, this numbering system simplifies the registration of weapons. These directives were also applied, mutatis mutandis, at the time of the acquisition of 5.6 mm model 90 assault rifles. But they did not apply to the purchase of the following light weapons: 40 mm grenade launcher for the 5.6 mm model 90 assault rifle (a separate directive called for the application of a 5-digit number) and the 9 mm model HK5 sub-machine gun (the weapon number was applied by the manufacturer).

Marking at the time of import:

Article 18(a), para. 2 WA covers imported firearms, requiring them to be marked individually.

Marking of SALW in the possession of government armed and security forces:

In order to be able to identify SALW of the Armed Forces without any risk of error, the Defence Procurement Agency called for new markings to distinguish Swiss Armed Forces' pistols and assault rifles, in addition to the weapon number. These markings provide information on four other issues, namely: (a) The letter “A ” for Armed Forces; (b) The “shield with the Swiss cross” (= service weapon); (c) The letters “W+K” (= weapon approved by the Federal Weapons Control Agency); (d) The proof firing stamp. These additional markings have been applied to 9 mm pistols (models 49 and 75), the 7.5 mm model 57 and the 5.6 mm model 90 assault rifles. The decision on the specific marking method is taken by armasuisse in consultation with the Armed Forces Planning Staff, taking into account the following factors: (a) The quantity of weapons to be manufactured; (b) The manufacturer’s marking and numbering; (c) The possibility of applying markings at the time of manufacture (including cost). The final decision concerning a particular marking technique (die stamping, engraving, laser, etc.) is taken by the Armed Forces Planning Staff. armasuisse is responsible for its application throughout the acquisition process. The weapons are supplied to the Armed Forces together with a statement of account. Once the weapons have been introduced, the Armed Forces Logistics Organisation or in special cases the Air Force Logistics has the overall responsibility for accounting as well as for the maintenance and repair of defective markings.


Measures against the removal or alteration of markings:

Art. 20 of the WA prohibits the alteration or removal of markings and foresees the concurrent sanction according to art. 33, para. 1(a). All arms belonging to the Swiss Armed Forces have been marked in a way that can only be altered or removed by mechanical methods.

 
 
 


Accurate and comprehensive records for all marked SALW within their territory:

According to art. 21 WA manufacturers are required to keep records of manufacture, acquisition and transfer of SALW for ten years, and to hand over the record books to cantonal authorities after this period of time. Non-compliance with this obligation is sanctioned in accordance with art. 33(1)(d) WA. Each canton has a competent authority which grants permission to individuals for the acquisition of weapons. Information about the weapons, purchaser and seller are kept in a computerized database. The statutory preservation period varies from one canton to another. Article 17 WMO stipulates a bookkeeping obligation for SALW. Brokers have to keep relevant documents available for inspection for a period of 10 years in order to substantiate records. On the part of the authorities, all granted licenses are kept in paper form for at least 30 years either by SECO or the Swiss Federal Archives (SFA). In addition, since 1998 all data have been recorded electronically. According to article 21 GCO all essential documents relating to the export of goods must be retained for 5 years from the date of customs clearance and must be submitted to the responsible authorities on request. Data regarding the transfer of SALW of the Armed Forces to private property is kept for 20 years.

 
 
 


Measures taken for undertaking traces and responding to tracing requests
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Tracing of firearms falls within the competence of the cantons.

Operational Informaton Exchange:

After implementing into Swiss national law the “EU 91/477/EEC Council Directive on Control of the Acquisition and Possession of Weapons”, the information exchange especially with Schengen member states has improved. Information about the illegal trade of arms is exchanged within the EFE.

Needs and Request for Assistance::

Implementation challenges and opportunities:

Switzerland is committed to art. 36 of the International Tracing Instrument, which foresees the biennial reporting of the progress made in the implementation of the instrument and art. 37, which foresees biennial meetings to consider the aforementioned reports.

 
 
 

Switzerland has made financial contributions to the Viva Rio project on tracing SALW and ammunition in Brazil.