Update: 30.06.2010

Augenauf calls for an end to forced deportation

On 28 June 2010, the Swiss authorities announced that an undetected heart condition was the cause of death of the 29-year-old Nigerian during the preparations for forced repatriation. According to the post-mortem report by the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Zurich, "the death was the result of a severe existing heart condition". As Khamma was weakened by a hunger strike, the already existing heart condition which was virtually impossible to diagnose and the "acute state of stress during the repatriation process" were cause enough for the Nigerian to die.

The man would still be alive if...

In its media release of 28 June 2010 Augenauf points out that, had the authorities refrained from a level IV repatriation of Khamma because of the health problems due to the hunger strike and the state of acute stress, the Nigerian would still be alive. After the publication of the death of the refugee, the human rights organisation interviewed numerous persons and witnesses of the incidents on 17 March 2010 leading to the conclusion that "the procedures of level IV repatriation measures which were approved by the federal government and the Conference of the Heads of the Cantonal Police Departments and are cruel and inhuman". The example of the deceased Nigerian shows how absurd it is to claim refugees to be intractable and violent if they are forcefully refusing a repatriation. Instead of protecting the weak health of the prisoner after the hunger strike he was exposed to the toughest possible level IV procedures possible.

Appeal to the involved parties

The Augenauf organisation now calls for the federal government and the cantons not to carry out any further repatriations. "The dignity of a human being is violated if he is sent to another country against his will by plane, wrapped up like a parcel. We appeal to all responsible people to refuse participation in any kind of forced repatriations."

Case history

A rejected asylum seeker threatened with deportation died at Zurich airport in the evening of 17 March 2010. Being restrained because he opposed to his extradition, the 29-year-old Nigerian man, was due to be deported on a flight to Lagos with 15 other Nigerian asylum seekers. Apparently, the man had gone on a hunger strike. The announcement was made by the Zurich authorities, which have opened an inquiry and ordered an autopsy. The Federal Office for Migration (FOM) says it regrets what it describes as a tragic incident and it has suspended all similar flights until further notice. Witnesses by co-deportees said that the measures of retrained used were exaggerated. As published in the newspaper "Südostschweiz", the FOM has again started the forced repatriation of Nigerian refugees. But now the African state sees the lifes of its citizens in danger in the case of an extradition against their will. The director of the FOM, Mr Du Bois-Reymond, therefore wants to take up negotiations with the Nigerian state.

Defamation of Nigerian asylum seekers

Only a few weeks after the death of the Nigerian refugee, Mr Du Bois-Reymond started a defamation campaign that was picked up by some media and politicians. In a recent interview with a newspaper, he was quoted to have said that 99.5% of all Nigerian asylum seekers stood no chance to get political asylum and came to Switzerland for illegal business purposes only. Such sentences are discriminating and completely unfounded. What is even more objectionable is to hear these words from the director of the federal department dealing with thie integration of foreign nationals in Switzerland.

In a letter to the FOM director Amnesty International brings to mind the grave violations of humanitarian law in Nigeria: journalists and human rights activists are brutally beaten and sent to prison, hundreds of inhabitants of Christian villages die in massacres and more than 2 million people have been displaced over the past decade. The desolate human rights situation is one of the more important reasons for refugees to leave Nigeria.

Independent observers recommended by the UN Human Rights Committee

The human rights organization Amnesty International Swiss branch demanded an immediate, independent and impartial inquiry. Together with Amnesty and other NGO, Humanrights.ch / MERS calls for the application of the 15th recommendation made by the UN Human Rights Committee in October 2009: the monitoring of independent observers during forcible deportations of rejected asylum seekers. According to a declaration of the Zurich NZZ newspaper, confirmed by the FOM, a new procedure following a EU directive that requires monitoring during deportations should enter into force early 2011.

Documentation

Further information

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