The campaign on the “responsible business” initiative is still very tense. The latest example to date is the criticism of the Liberal Vert’libérale Isabelle Chevalley who opposes this text. It is particularly a question of the close relations of the national adviser with the party in power in Burkina Faso.
Critics, mainly from the Socialist Party, are raining down on Isabelle Chevalley. At the heart of the problem, the publication of an article on Heidi.news where the parliamentarian confirms that she is the official adviser to the President of the Burkinabé Parliament, a member of the ruling party, and that she holds a diplomatic passport from Burkina Faso. A country that would be directly impacted by the initiative on responsible companies, the vote of which takes place at the end of November.
According to several sources, children work in particular in cotton fields. For the Socialists, there is therefore a conflict of interest. How can you be a member of a country’s parliament and advisor to a leader? The potential for foreign influence is very present in their eyes and the former president of the PS Christian Levrat asks Isabelle Chevalley for explanations.
Isabelle Chevalley reflects on a criminal complaint
On Monday, the national adviser released a statement in which she believes that the journalist from Heidi.news is only seeking to harm and discredit her and her commitment to this campaign. She wishes to refer the matter to the Press Council and says she is considering filing a criminal complaint.
Basically, Isabelle Chevalley explains to RTS that her work as a consultant is voluntary. In her eyes, there is therefore nothing problematic or nothing that can influence her work as an elected official. She specifies that she has no mandate and adds that “such advisers”, African presidents “have at least 20 each”.
Asked to know the nature of this work, the elected Vaudoise replied: “When he comes to Switzerland, I take him in my car and we go to see farms”. In short, a sort of personal tourist guide.
What about the law?
At the legal level, there are one or two articles of the law on the Federal Assembly which could interest Isabelle Chevalley. Article 12 explains that members of councils are prohibited from exercising official functions for a foreign state and from accepting titles and decorations granted by foreign authorities. A ban which aims to prevent deputies from being likely to be influenced.
And then there is also the obligation to disclose one’s competing interests. When they take office and at the beginning of each year, Members are required to do so. This information is public and on the register concerning Isabelle Chevallay, there is no mention of Burkina Faso or of a diplomatic passport.
Parliamentary services still cautious
Contacted, the Parliament services want to be cautious for the moment because for the moment, everything is not yet very clear in this story.
According to his personal statements, wrote the services of Parliament to the RTS, Isabelle Chevalley is a “consultant” by profession. She does not have to disclose all the mandates of her professional activity.
As for the diplomatic passport, we do not know under what circumstances it was handed over to the Vaudois politician. Nevertheless, the services of the Parliament specify that a distinction granted by a foreign authority would be illegal.