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Swiss police criticised for excessive use of force

Some police officials claim to be unaware that their methods might be dangerous


Switzerland's police force has come under fire by Amnesty International for using excessive force against asylum seekers.

The human rights organisation said black Africans and Muslims in particular were treated harshly by police officers.

In its 2003 report, Amnesty cited a handful of cases in which violence was used against non-Swiss people - and said this had in some extreme cases even resulted in death.

The organisation acknowledged that Switzerland had tried to clamp down on these practices in the last two years, but said there was still a long way to go.


The report singled out police methods such as the use of sedatives and physical restraints on asylum seekers during forced deportation, including from Zurich airport.

It said the unauthorised use of medication to subdue asylum seekers contravened Swiss and international guidelines on medical ethics.

It cited one case in canton Valais when a Nigerian asylum seeker died from suffocation, after police sat on him to restrain him.

The Swiss Federal Police Office declined to comment on Amnesty's findings when contacted by swissinfo. Spokesperson Danièle Bersier said all the allegations concerned cantonal police forces.

swissinfo, Faryal Mirza


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