Back The Council of Europe anti-torture Committee publishes Swiss report

A report published today by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) assesses the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty in Switzerland. The report, published after receiving a green light from the Federal Council, together with its response, covers a visit by the CPT from 5 to 15 February 2001.

The great majority of persons detained by the police stated that they had been properly treated. The very few allegations of ill-treatment received concerned disproportionate use of force at the time of apprehension. Despite this rather favourable situation, there remains a need, in the CPT's view, for the competent authorities to remain vigilant. The Committee welcomes the large-scale project to unify the criminal procedure in Switzerland, which meets the most important CPT recommendations concerning safeguards against ill-treatment.

In its report, the Committee severely criticises the forcible removals of foreign nationals by air (the so-called level 3 and 4 deportations), which present a manifest risk of inhuman and degrading treatment. The Committee formulates guidelines aiming at preventing such a risk: prohibition of methods likely to obstruct the respiratory tracts, introduction of procedures to prevent positional asphyxia, proper training of escorting staff. In its response, the Federal Council stresses that the CPT's recommendations have already been implemented to a large extent and that instructions on this subject are being prepared at national level.

For the first time, the Committee visited a private psychiatric establishment, the Clinic in Littenheid. The living conditions and treatment of patients were of a very high standard. However, the Committee makes recommendations concerning the legal safeguards surrounding the involuntary placement of patients. The Swiss authorities indicate in their response that the implementation of these recommendations is currently being examined in the framework of the review of the Law on Guardianship.

The Correctional Centre for Juveniles in Prêles gave rise to concern for the CPT: allegations of frequent acts of violence and threats among residents, poor material conditions and absence of outdoor exercise for juveniles punished with cellular confinement. In their response, the Swiss authorities outline the measures taken to combat violence and to improve the conditions in the disciplinary cells.

The CPT's report and the Federal Council's response will be available today on the website

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