The Swiss government recently released a report on the forced repatriation of foreigners. The document sets out problems with the process, in particular the use of balaclavas and guns by the police, the way deportees are restrained, and the separation of families.
The national commission for the prevention of torture, the commission behind the report focused on observing the treatment of deportees leaving by plane.
Between April 2016 and March 2017, the commission followed 40 forced expulsions and 72 airport transfers involving 317 individuals. Among them were 26 families and 64 children.
In four cases the police involved wore balaclavas. The commission said that no security reason justified this practice.
In addition, the commission witnessed four instances where the police carried firearms and tasers while pointing out that firearms and incapacitating devices are not allowed when repatriating people by air.
70% of those transferred via airports were partially restrained, including the parents of eight families. The commission questioned the need to handcuff those who cooperated and said that restraining parents in front of their children should be avoided.
The commission was concerned by the practice of separating children from their parents ahead of repatriation, something which happened twice.
The commission also recommended that deportees be systematically informed of the details of their expulsion at least 72 hours before, including the time of the flight, the length of the flight and the destination. Some cantons refrained from providing this information for fear that deportees might harm themselves.
Other than the cases identified above the report praised overall improvements in the process.