Back Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes report on Switzerland

The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published today the report on its most recent visit to Switzerland, carried out in October 2011, together with the response of the Swiss Government.

Nearly all detained persons met by the CPT’s delegation in the Cantons of Bern, Thurgau, Zug and Zurich stated that they had been treated correctly by the police; a few allegations of excessive use of force by the police were received concerning the Canton of Vaud. However, in the Canton of Geneva, a disturbing proportion of the persons with whom the delegation spoke, including some juveniles, complained about physical ill-treatment by the police at the time of, or just after, apprehension. These allegations were often supported by medical evidence. The CPT has recommended that action be taken to combat ill-treatment in the Canton of Geneva, through improved training and reinforcing existing safeguards. In this context, it has also recommended that the traumatic injury reports drawn up upon admission to Champ-Dollon Prison be automatically forwarded to an independent body empowered to conduct investigations. In their response, the Swiss authorities state that the training courses for the Geneva police already include elements on the appropriate use of force, and that internal reporting mechanisms are functioning well and have led to disciplinary measures in a number of cases.

In the prisons visited, the vast majority of inmates interviewed by the CPT’s delegation said that they had not experienced any ill-treatment; however, some allegations were received in Champ-Dollon Prison. The Swiss authorities comment that the annual number of complaints of ill-treatment in this establishment had remained the same in 2010 and 2011, with 17 complaints per year, and that all complaints had been forwarded to the Professional Ethics Commissioner. Problems associated with overcrowding were observed in Champ-Dollon Prison and the CPT has called on the authorities to reduce the number of prisoners held there. While acknowledging the overcrowding (665 prisoners for a capacity of 376 places), the Swiss authorities state that a swift transfer of sentenced prisoners is hindered by limited capacities in other establishments.

Another focus of the visit report relates to detained persons suffering from psychiatric disorders, but who are held in a normal prison or high-security environment where they are unable to receive the necessary care and treatment. The Swiss authorities acknowledge that there is currently an insufficient number of places in suitable care facilities, but assure the CPT that the Cantons are in the process of remedying this problem.

The CPT's report and the response of the Swiss Government have been made public at the request of the Swiss authorities and are available in French (CPT report) and French, German and Italian (Swiss response) on the Committee's website:

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