Update: 12.11.2008

Use of Force Act: law and ordinance come into effect in January 2009

The Swss Federal Council announced that on 1 January 2009 the standardised law on compulsory measures will be put into effect at a federal level. The Use of Force Act describes in which precise cases which means of compulsory measures can be legally used by the federal authorities and those cantonal authorities mandated by the Confederation. The Federal Department of Justice and Police will have to establish an evaluation report on the use of stun guns after two years. These were at the centre of parliamentary debates for a long time, and a serious concern to human rights activists.

Parliament approved use of stun guns 

On 20 March 2008, both houses of Parliament decided on the use of so-called Tasers. As expected, the final result was clear, with 123 members voting in favour, 61 against and 10 abstentions. This decision put an end to the debates in the National Council and the Council of States over the last two years. Humanrights.ch, together with Amnesty International and other NGOs, fought against the law on stun guns until the very end.

«It is shameful that this law has been adopted by the Federal Parliament», said Daniel Bolomey, Secretary General of the Swiss section of Amnesty International (AI) . «The Parliament has adopted a law that puts the lives of people in danger. This is completely irresponsible». The use of tasers is particularly problematic, since there still is no independent and in-depth study on the possible health impacts posed by their use. Though it is uncertain whether stun guns pose risks for affected persons, the debate in the National Council was based on this assumption. The Council Member, Jasmin Hutter (SVP, SG) falsely presumed that tasers could save lives.

Federal Council Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf at least guaranteed that the stun gun would not be used during deportations by air. A taser is supposed to be used against persons who put their own lives or the lives of others in danger. Human rights organisations repeatedly stressed that the Federal Council and the Parliament promised to abstain from using stun guns during forced deportations. The organisations demand that this type of weapon may only be used in clearly defined situations, to avoid deaths. They are convinced that the use of tasers during forced deportations of foreigners is disproportionate and unnecessarily violent. 

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