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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Swiss Parliament Approves Use of tasers in Deportations

March 19, 2008
Agence France Presse

BERN - Switzerland’s parliament on Tuesday approved the use by police of Taser stun guns when forcibly deporting foreigners from the country, Swiss news agency ATS reported.

Police will be allowed to use the electronic stun guns as a last resort, along with handcuffs and dogs.The Taser packs a 50,000-volt punch that can paralyse targets from up to 10 metres away.

Tasers have been mired in controversy after a series of fatal shootings in the US and Canada last year, with a United Nations committee denouncing them as a form of torture.

In one notorious case last year, a Polish man died at Vancouver airport after being tasered by Canadian police.

The man, Robert Dziekanski, 40, fell to the ground and died after the police officers piled on top of him. A passenger captured the attack on film and the incident revived debate about the guns’ safety.

The company that makes the weapons has said that similar deaths have been shown by medical science and forensic analysis to be “attributable to other factors and not the low-energy electrical discharge of the Taser”.

The Swiss decision was sharply criticised by rights group Amnesty International.

“This is a deplorable law … it puts people’s lives at risk,” said Amnesty’s Swiss head Daniel Bolomey.

Amnesty Switzerland said it “believes Parliament’s decision to allow the use of Tasers when deporting foreigners as scandalous and unworthy of our country”.

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