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Report: some migrant deportation methods still pose problems

Swiss police handling of forced deportations of migrants has generally improved in the last year but some practices are still problematic, says Switzerland’s National Commission for the Prevention of Torture (NCPT).

“The Commission is pleased to note that authorities often refrain from physically restraining people, notably during their transport to the airport,” says the independent advisory body in a report published this week. “It nevertheless considers that further improvements are necessary, especially with regard to partial immobilisation during the transfer and organisation on the ground at the airport.”  

The report flagged large police operations deployed by some cantons to pick up families with children and take them to the airport as particularly problematic.  

The Commission stressed its recommendation that “restraining measures should only be used if there are concrete indications that the person is a danger to themselves or to others”.  

In the past, human rights groups have slammed repatriation procedures, notably of rejected asylum seekers. 

The report is based on 34 deportations observed by the NCPT between April 2019 and March 2020. 

The NCPT said it was often unable to monitor what happens when the deportee arrives in their country of repatriation “because of the principle of national sovereignty”. However, the first results of a pilot agreement signed in 2019 with Kosovo were positive.   

“This cooperation certainly fills a gap in the repatriation monitoring system,” said the NCPT.