Amnesty takes Swiss police to task over treatment of immigrants

Swiss police have been criticised for their treatment of prisoners and asylum seekers by Amnesty International, in its annual report. The organisation highlighted several cases in which it said people of colour were mistreated by police in Zurich and Geneva.

This content was published on May 30, 2001 minutes

Amnesty, which celebrates its 40th birthday this week, regularly criticises Swiss police for their treatment of asylum seekers and prisoners.

In its report for 2000, released on Wednesday, Amnesty cites a number of cases in which it says Africans were allegedly harassed, held on trumped up charges and mistreated by police.

Amnesty also criticised police for alleged ill-treatment of asylum seekers during deportation, referring to one case in which a Palestinian deportee died while he was in the process of being sent out of the country.

Amnesty said that a Swiss inquiry into the death, which occurred at Zurich airport in March 1999, had revealed that Khaled Abuzarifa had been "given a sedative tablet, had his mouth sealed with adhesive tape, was bound hand and foot and strapped into a wheelchair in preparation for deportation".

It added that the post-mortem had concluded that Abuzarifa had "suffocated to death and... criticised the escorting police officers for losing valuable time in removing the adhesive tape after observing that he was unwell".

Amnesty said that three police officers and a doctor who supervised the deportation had been charged with causing death through negligence and were facing suspended prison sentences.

The organisation also quoted several deportees who said they had been subjected to physical assault and racial abuse during their forcible deportation from Zurich and Geneva airports.

Amnesty added that the Swiss authorities were investigating several of the accusations.


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