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Cabinet defines use of force for deportations

Human-rights groups have repeatedly protested against controversial deportation methods Keystone Archive

The Swiss government says police should be allowed to use electroshock weapons and shackles to restrain foreigners who resist forced deportation.

This content was published on November 24, 2004 - 15:48

The proposal, which is contained in a draft law aimed at coordinating police methods nationwide, outlaws the gagging of deportees.

The draft law, presented by the justice ministry on Wednesday, defines legal and illegal methods for deporting foreigners who refuse to leave the country peacefully or who are being transferred within Switzerland.

Officials said the use of force should not be excessive and “as far as possible” should not harm the people concerned.

Under the legislation, deportations would only be carried out by specially trained police units.

The proposals list several types of shackles and handcuffs, electroshock weapons and batons - forms of restraint which are already used in certain cases - that would be allowed as a last resort.

However, gagging devices and masks that prevent a prisoner from breathing properly as well as tranquilizers would be banned.

Consultation procedure

The bill will now be sent for consultation to political parties, organisations and groups, as part of the legislative process in Switzerland.

The cabinet is expected to consider their comments next year before the proposals are presented to parliament.

The non-governmental Swiss Refugee Council has criticised the moves, saying they do not include any provision for allowing independent human-rights monitors to oversee the expulsions.

“We will suggest the idea again during the consultation procedure,” spokesman Jürg Schertenleib told swissinfo.

Amnesty International, a human-rights organisation, said on Wednesday that it was opposed to the use of electroshock weapons against prisoners.

The justice ministry said “isolated incidents” in the past had prompted the country’s 26 cantons to call for a standardised solution to the handling of forced expulsions.

Since 1999 at least two foreigners – a Palestinian and a Nigerian – have died in police custody during deportation.

About 150 people are forcibly expelled from Switzerland every year.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

A Palestinian man suffocated at Zurich airport in 1999 when police bound and gagged him to stop him from protesting against his deportation.
A Nigerian man suffocated during deportation in 2001.
Switzerland has 26 cantonal police forces, which are responsible for law and order in their regions.

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