Germany failing to probe police abuse: Amnesty

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Human rights watchdog Amnesty International accused Germany Thursday in a new report of failing to probe claims of police abuse and excessive force sufficiently.

AI cited three deaths and 12 cases of serious injury in recent years which it attributed to police action and said it was possible that there were far more instances still to be uncovered.

"Law enforcement officials are not above the law -- they are subject to it. This means that the police must be accountable to the law, to the state and to the public," Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director David Diaz-Jogeix said in a statement.

"Failure to live up to international standards ... is leading to a climate of impunity and a lack of accountability."

The report, "Unknown Assailant", recounts the use of what AI calls excessive force during arrests, against protesters at demonstrations and during deportations.

It said a lack of information about how to lodge a criminal complaint over police abuse, difficulty in identifying officers involved and inadequate follow-up by the authorities were recurrent problems.

The report cited the infamous case of Oury Jalloh, an asylum-seeker from Sierra Leone who burned to death in 2005 after having been tied to a bed in a cell in the eastern city of Dessau.

"The accused police officers on duty when he burned to death remain in office but they are no longer working at the same police station," it said.

AI called on German authorities to tackle the problem head-on with independent police complaint bodies, clear identification of police officers when they are on duty and regular training for police on the use of force.

"Officers responsible for criminal conduct must be brought to justice in full and fair proceedings," he said.

© 2010 AFP

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