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Undercover revelations

Report clears asylum centre personnel of wrongdoing

A report has cleared a private security firm and government migration authorities of wrongdoing after an undercover journalistic exposé claimed physical abuse of asylum seekers by security personnel at a federal asylum centre in Kreuzlingen.

The journalistic piece, which ran in the SonntagsZeitung newspaper in January, reported that terrorists, smugglers and drug dealers were able to gain access to the asylum centre in Kreuzlingen undetected, and that security personnel had shown physically abusive behaviour towards asylum seekers.

Mario Gattiker, the head of the State Secretariat for Migration SEM, which is responsible for running federal asylum centres, asked former Federal Court member Michel Féraud to look into the allegations. Féraud presented his findings on Tuesday, stating that he had not found any concrete evidence of wrongdoing.

In conducting his research, Féraud looked at eight incidents in which security personnel were accused of using unacceptable physical force against asylum seekers. In three cases, he found that physical action by personnel was justified to break up violence among asylum seekers. An investigation is still pending in one of those cases.

In the other five cases investigated by Féraud, the suspected excessive use of force was not substantiated. His report did, however, uncover one case of verbal abuse and another where excessive punishment was given.

Gattiker told the media on Tuesday that those cases are being taken seriously and that he has expressed to the management of the private security firm at Kreuzlingen that asylum seekers must be treated fairly and respectfully.

Féraud did note room for improvement in his report, especially when it comes to personnel training. Staff should be better trained in dealing with traumatised or recalcitrant asylum seekers, as well as in conflict resolution, he noted. His recommendations are already being implemented through revised staff training measures, according to the migration office. 

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