Update: 27.06.2007

Human rights’ shortcomings in Swiss police force

On 27 June 2007 the Swiss section of Amnesty International (AI) published a detailed report on the shortcomings of the Swiss police and observed its virtual impunity. The human rights organisation analysed testimonies collected over the past years, held discussions with police officers of several cantons, investigated among lawyers and other investigation authorities, etc. In its report, Amnesty presents violations of human rights perpetrated by the Swiss police in its daily practice. The organisation also observes that incidents implying policemen are rarely investigated, and those involved rarely punished. Swiss police reacted with outrage and rejected the report.

Concerns and recommendations

Amnesty’s report “Switzerland: Police, Justice and Human Rights” describes human rights violations by the Swiss police in several areas:

  • Police behaviour incompatible with human rights standards: identity checks on the street and unjustified temporary arrests in police stations were criticised as examples
  • excessive use of force: The use of potentially lethal forms of constraint were criticised, such as throat holds or shackling people's hands behind their backs while laying face-down on the ground
  • Dangerous equipment used by the police: The use of tear gas in enclosed spaces and electroshock weapons such as tasers were criticised
  • Discriminatory practices: Asylum seekers, blacks, anti-globalisation protestors, football supporters and minors are victims of a disproportionate number of interventions, arbitrary detention and degrading treatment.

Amnesty said it was also concerned by the delegation of police tasks to private security firms, whose staff had a less than perfect awareness of and interest in human rights.

Several concrete and precise recommendations were made by the human rights organisation. For instance, it called for authorities to draw up ethics codes and guidelines on human rights for all police officers as they carry out their work. The organisation also recommended the creation of an independent court of appeal, which was the only way for complaints against police officers to be objectively examined.

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