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Strip searches can violate rights, rules court

In the ruling, the Court found that the treatment was degrading and violating the man's personal freedoms. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Switzerland’s highest court ruled that conducting strip searches of a suspected criminal who shows no signs of danger is unjustified.

This content was published on January 29, 2020 - 16:58
Keystone-SDA/jdp

The case concerns an Estonian businessman who was arrested at Zurich airport in 2018 on suspicion of destroying data. The police conducted a full body search of the man, asking him to partially undress from the top, then the bottom. Police examined all body cavities.

The man filed a complaint with a Zurich court, which ruled against the man who appealed the decision. On Wednesday, the highest court published the judgement in favour of the man, arguing that the tactics used by the police violated his dignity and fundamental rights. The treatment was not proportionate to the alleged crimes and therefore unjustified according to the court.

They maintained that a search, which requires the person to strip naked and submit to examination in places that would not otherwise be exposed, is only permissible if there are serious and concrete indications of self-harm or danger to others. 

If the person behaves aggressively, this can also be a valid reason for a body search. However, in the case of the businessman he cooperated with authorities and didn’t appear to be aggressive.


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