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The Federal Council determined that the State Secretariat of the FDFA should be the competent authority. The Export Controls and Private Security Services Section (ECPS) is operationally responsible for implementing the PSSA and publishes annual reports.

The aims of the PSSA

The aims of the PSSA are as follows:

  • safeguarding the internal and external security of Switzerland;
  • realising Switzerland's foreign policy objectives;
  • preserving Swiss neutrality; and
  • guaranteeing compliance with international law and, in particular, respect for human rights and international humanitarian law.

The scope of the PSSA

The PSSA governs the provision of private security services, which include the protection of persons, the guarding of property and buildings in complex environments, and security services at events. The definition of 'security services' in the PSSA also includes services supplied to armed and security forces, intelligence activities, and services relating to prisoners or detainees. The PSSA also applies to services provided in connection with private security services, i.e. training, recruitment, placement or the provision of staff for private security services abroad.

The PSSA applies to individuals, legal entities and partnerships that set up, establish, operate or manage companies providing such services in Switzerland, or exercise control over such companies from Switzerland.

The PSSA prohibits any individuals or legal entities and partnerships falling within its scope from engaging in activities for the purpose of direct participation in hostilities abroad or from providing private security services where there is reason to believe that the recipients will use the services in connection with the commission of serious human rights violations.

Procedure

The ECPS must review the declarations submitted within 14 days (declaration procedure) and initiate a review procedure where there is evidence that the planned activities could be in conflict with the aims of the PSSA. In initiating a review procedure, the ECPS is required to consult the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) and the Federal Department of Defence, Civil Protection and Sport (DDPS) and, once they have heard the submissions of the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS), agree to prohibit the declared activity where necessary. As part of the review procedure, the ECPS may obtain additional information from the company concerned, the relevant FDFA units and the federal authorities.

If, following the consultation, the parties conclude that the declared activity is inconsistent with the aims of the PSSA, it must be prohibited. If it is established that the activity is in line with the PSSA, the ECPS informs the company that it may carry out the activity concerned.

Training requirements

Obligation to provide training

The PSSA and the Ordinance on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (OPSA) require companies falling within the scope of the Act to prove that their staff have received adequate training, which must provide an appropriate understanding in human rights and international humanitarian law.

Training course standards

The ECPS has defined the content of a training system that has a modular design, allowing companies to select specific modules relevant to the types of service they provide.

The purpose of setting standards is to help companies ensure that their training courses adequately cover human rights and international humanitarian law, as required by the PSSA, taking their specific circumstances into account.

Training Requirements according to the Federal Act on Private Security Services provided Abroad (PDF, 27 Pages, 257.6 kB, English)

Training services

Companies can opt to have their staff trained by specialist consultants, organisations, NGOs or in-house experts with qualifications recognised by the authority responsible for the PSSA implementation. The ECPS does not provide training courses itself, but will, on request, put companies in contact with recognised course providers and other interested firms.

In connection with the PSSA, the Geneva Centre for Security Policy (GCSP) has produced a Training Guide as part of a joint project with Swissmem, the Swiss umbrella organisation for the mechanical and electrical engineering industries.

Weapons Systems Supply and Operational or Logistical Support under the PSSA – a Training Guide to comply with the Swiss Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad

Companies contracted by federal authorities to provide services abroad

The PSSA also sets out the legal basis for federal authorities to contract companies to perform security work in complex environments and lays down the minimum requirements they must meet. These provisions include, in particular, rules on internal control systems, initial and ongoing staff training, and the arming of personnel by the companies contracted. The Ordinance on the Use of Private Security Companies (OESS), however, applies to any federal authority that hires a private security firm to undertake security work in Switzerland or abroad, provided that these tasks do not take place in a complex environment.

Additional Information and Documents

Annual Reports

2020 annual report (PDF, 10 Pages, 1.0 MB, English)

2019 annual report (PDF, 9 Pages, 999.3 kB, English)

2018 annual report (PDF, 10 Pages, 653.2 kB, English)

2017 annual report (PDF, 13 Pages, 718.5 kB, English)

Activity report 2015/2016 (PDF, 13 Pages, 107.9 kB, English)

Last update 26.04.2022

Contact

International Security Division

Effingerstrasse 27
3003 Bern

Access plan

Phone

+41 58 463 58 00 / +41 58 485 65 10

Fax

+41 58 464 38 39