The Federal Department for Environment, Transport, Energy and Communication (DETEC) and the Federal Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA) have today informed the Federal Council that the USA have received authorisation for the use of Swiss air space until 31 December 2006. This authorisation makes explicit reference to compliance with international law.
The authorisation concerns over flight rights for official American aircraft in accordance with Art. 4 of the ordinance on the safeguarding of air sovereignty (VWL). The authorisation provides for a simplified procedure for issuing over flight rights for a defined number of aircraft and with disclosure of all relevant data. The applicable law reserves the Swiss authorities the right to conduct controls in case of substantiated suspicions.
At the end of 2005, the existing authorisation was provisionally extended by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) in agreement with the DFA. The extension of the annual authorisation was explicitly linked to the requested explanations.
In mid-December 2005, the US Secretary of State, Condoleeza Rice, declared that the USA had not carried out any prisoner transfers for the purpose of conducting interrogations where torture was used, and that the USA did not tolerate torture under any circumstances. Moreover, on 30 January 2006, the American authorities assured Switzerland that they had always respected Swiss sovereignty in the past and that they would continue to do so in the future. They also confirmed that Swiss air space or Swiss airports where not used for prisoner transfers.
The assurances given by the US authorities permit the annual authorisation to be renewed in accordance with applicable Swiss law and in full compliance with international law. With this, the renewal procedure has been completed.