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Policeman exploits asylum seeker in sex-for-favours case

An ex-policeman who demanded sexual favours from an asylum seeker in exchange for promising to help him has been found guilty by a Swiss court.

Policeman exploits asylum seeker in sex-for-favours case
Photo: Emran Kassim/File

The events took place in 2010 when the now 63-year-old, who was still in the police force at the time, first met the Iraqi man at a police station in Granges-Paccot in the canton of Fribourg, reports news agency ATS.

On three subsequent occasions he demanded fellatio from the asylum seeker, promising to support his asylum application in return, the court heard.

Though the defendant denied the charges, the court found his testimony to be inconsistent and sometimes incoherent, said ATS.

In contrast the court found the Iraqi to be a credible witness, acknowledging that it was not easy – either linguistically or culturally – for him to speak about fellatio and homosexuality.

According to ATS it wasn’t the Iraqi who reported the policeman’s actions but a third person, a witness in another case that involved the plaintiff.

The Iraqi told a hearing on February 23rd that he had tried to forget about what had happened, because it upset him to talk about it.

In response to the charges, the ex-policeman said the asylum seeker had promised him information about drug trafficking and wanted to take revenge after realizing that he wouldn’t get any help in return.

The defendant was found guilty of causing distress and passive corruption and given a suspended sentence of 15 months.

He intends to appeal.

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IMMIGRATION

Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse

Minors and adults housed in Swiss asylum centres have faced serious abuses at the hands of security staff, including beatings and chokeholds, Amnesty International warned Wednesday.

Amnesty decries Swiss asylum centre abuse
An asylum centre in the Alpine village of Realp, Central Switzerland. Photo: FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

In a report, the rights organisation’s Swiss chapter detailed “alarming abuse” in the country’s federal asylum centres, and called for urgent government action to address the problem.

The report documents a range of abuses by staff of the private security companies Securitas and Protectas, which had been contracted by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Migration (SEM).

Amnesty said it had spoken with 14 asylum seekers, including two minors, who reported having faced abuse from the security officers between January 2020 and April 2021, along with 18 current and former security agents and other witnesses.

The asylum seekers described being beaten and physically restrained to the point where they could not breathe or fainted.

Some also complained about trouble breathing after being doused with pepper spray, and being locked in a metal container in freezing temperatures.

The report found that six of the alleged victims had to be hospitalised, while two said they had been denied the medical assistance they had requested.

“In addition to complaints about physical pain, mistreatment and punitive treatment, these people also voiced concerns about (security staff’s) hostility, prejudice and racism towards the residents,” said Alice Giraudel, a lawyer with Amnesty’s Swiss branch.

Such attitudes had seemed to target people of North African origin in particular, she said. Some of the abuse cases, Amnesty said, “could amount to torture”, and would thus violate Switzerland’s obligations under international law.

In a media statement, the SEM said it took the criticism “very seriously”, but rejected the suggestion that abuses were taking place in a systematic manner in federal asylum centres.

It stressed that there was no acceptance for “disproportionate constraint” of asylum seekers, and vowed to “sanction all improper behaviour.”

Giraudel hailed that the SEM had recently announced it would open an external probe into isolated abuse allegations.

But, she insisted, the situation was alarming and required the government to stop looking at allegations of abuse as the work of “a few bad apples”.

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