Update: 17.12.2014

Current estimates and requirements with respect to police power

In Switzerland, victims of disproportionate police violence is in a difficult position since the penal system only reluctantly presses charges against members of the police force. There is no statistical evidence on how many charges are reported against the authorities and their number is almost unknown to the public.

In an exemplary article, the «Plädoyer» magazine succeds in showing that charges must be more frequent all the same. Only very rarely, however, a charge is brought to court, since the hurdles within the administration are quite high. The chances of a member of the police force being found guilty by a court are rather small. Frequently the victim will even be charged and fined since it is part of the defense strategy of the police force to press charges of violence and of threatening police staff right from the beginning of the proceedings or at the very latest at the moment an imprisoned person presses charges of abuse of authority.

Experts call for an independent point of contact

As quoted in «Plädoyer», Denise Graf of Amnesty International states that these assaults often resemble degrading treatment. «On the one hand this can mean making derogatory statements towarsd darker-skinned persns or women, or on the other hand the mostly unnecessary taking along of persons to the police station, frequently in handcuffs». According to «Plädoyer», ombudsmen are in office only in the cantons of Zurich, Vaud, Zug and the two Basel, as well as in the cities Zurich, Bern, Winterthur and St. Gallen. It has to be said, all the same, that the municipal ombudspersons do not have any authority to take action against the cantonal police forces, as for example in the city of Bern. In this particular case the result is that there is no more place to turn to since the moment the municipal police force was integrated into the cantonal police forces.

The police is an instrument of power for which reason an independent and strict control instance is vital. One of the suggestions up for discussion is to always have a number of cantons to form a concordat which would facillitate the creation of a joint specialised independent authority. This would allow for an independent judge from an other canton to conduct the investigation of case. The aim is to avoid an investigative judge of getting into a conflict of interest, if he has to conduct a case against the police force which he needs to cooperate with well in everyday business.

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