Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad

Under the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad and the accompanying ordinance, companies that wish to provide, from Switzerland, private security services abroad are subject to a prior declaration requirement. The Private Security Services Section of the FDFA's Directorate of Political Affairs is responsible for implementing the Federal Act, and publishes annual reports on this implementation.

The purpose of the Federal Act on Private Security Services Provided Abroad (PSSA) is to safeguard the internal and external security of Switzerland, to realise Switzerland's foreign policy objectives, to preserve Swiss neutrality and to guarantee compliance with international law, and in particular of human rights and of international humanitarian law.  The PSSA and its accompanying ordinance entered into force on 1 September 2015. 

The PSSA regulates the provision of private security services, such as the protection of persons and the guarding or surveillance of goods and properties in complex environments and security services at events. Under the PSSA, 'private security services' also covers services for foreign armed and security forces, intelligence activities and services in connection with detained or interned persons. Also covered under the PSSA are services in connection with a private security service, i.e. recruiting or training personnel for private security services abroad and providing personnel, directly or as an intermediary, for a company that offers private security services abroad.

The PSSA is applicable to legal persons, natural persons and business associations that provide, from Switzerland, private security services abroad. It also applies to those that establish, base, operate or manage such a private security company in Switzerland, as well as to those that exercise control over such a company from Switzerland. All undertakings governed by the PSSA are obliged to declare their activities abroad to the Private Security Services Section and to become a member of the International Code of Conduct for Private Security Service Providers. 

Legal and natural persons to which the PSSA applies are prohibited from engaging in any activities conducted for purposes of direct participation in hostilities abroad.  The PSSA further prohibits the provision of security services abroad of which it may be assumed that they will be utilised by the recipient or recipients in the commission of serious human rights violations. 

The PSSA also provides a legal basis for the contracting of private security companies by federal authorities for tasks of protection in complex environments abroad and defines the minimum requirements for the companies concerned.  These provisions include, in particular, rules on training, arming and internal control systems of contracted companies. 

Implementation of the PSSA by the FDFA's Private Security Services Section

The Private Security Services Section is responsible for implementation of the PSSA and for the administrative procedures set forth in the PSSA.  The section, which is part of the FDFA's Directorate of Political Affairs, examines incoming declarations and initiates a review procedure if there are indications to suggest that the planned activities could be in conflict with the purpose of the Federal Act.  During the review, the Private Security Services Section may obtain further information about the situation from the company concerned.

If the Private Security Services Section deems an activity to be in conflict with the purposes of the PSSA, it will prohibit the declared activity.  If the section does not issue a prohibition, the company will be notified that the declared activity can be pursued. 

The section works within the FDFA on developing policy with regard to private security firms and participates at international level in the dialogue on domestic standards for private military and security companies. It maintains contacts with the government agencies involved, communicates with the industry and produces information for the general public.  

Additional Information and Documents