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Amnesty International Report 1998 - Germany

Publisher Amnesty International
Publication Date 1 January 1998
Cite as Amnesty International, Amnesty International Report 1998 - Germany, 1 January 1998, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6a9fc34.html [accessed 17 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

(This report covers the period January-December 1997)

There were further allegations of ill-treatment of detainees by police officers.

In May the German Government rejected the recommendation made by the UN Human Rights Committee in November 1996 that "independent bodies [be established] throughout the territory of the State Party for the investigation of complaints of ill-treatment by the police" (see Amnesty International Report 1997), stating that it saw "no need for additional measures for regulating the investigation and prosecution of [such] allegations".

In July the government published the report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture, a committee of experts set up under the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, on its visit to Germany in April 1996, together with the interim report drawn up in response by the German authorities. The Committee reported hearing during its visit "a certain number of allegations... of the use of excessive force by police officers at the time of apprehension. The most common forms of ill-treatment alleged by detained persons were blows and kicks received after they had been restrained and placed on the ground at the time of their apprehension". The Committee also reported meeting numerous detainees during its visit to police establishments who "apparently had not been informed of their rights... or of the basic rules applicable in the place of detention in which they were held", and repeated its recommendation, first made in 1991, that detainees be given a form, at the very outset of their custody, informing them of their rights

During 1997 there were further allegations of police ill-treatment of foreigners, including asylum-seekers, and members of ethnic minorities.

An Israeli national alleged that in January a group of men he believed to be "neo-Nazis" chased him through Frankfurt railway station and then beat and kicked him after he fell to the ground. The men, who were dressed in civilian clothing, handcuffed him and took him to a police station where he learned that they were police officers. Following an identity check he was released from custody. According to medical evidence, the Israeli's injuries included multiple bruising of the arms, back and chest. He was later informed by the Frankfurt prosecuting authorities that he was under investigation for violently resisting police attempts to check his identity, for attacking the officers involved, and for calling them "Nazis". Both this investigation and the one into his alleged ill-treatment were discontinued in October.

Algerian asylum-seeker Nasr B. alleged that in March Berlin police officers violently twisted his arm behind his back, pushed him to the ground and kicked him on the head and body after he protested to them about being falsely accused of a street mugging. Medical evidence showed that Nasr B. had suffered a fracture of the right arm and multiple bruising. He also alleged that the officers subjected him to racist insults. Nasr B. was later informed by the Berlin police that he was under investigation for resisting police officers and for using insulting behaviour. His criminal complaint of ill-treatment was rejected in December.

In July Iranian refugee Homayoun Ghaleh alleged that a Dortmund police officer hit him on the head with a service radio and then struck his head on the ground after he intervened during an identity check on two of his cousins and a third youth. According to medical evidence his injuries included bruising of the forehead, crown of the head and cheekbone. The police officer involved denied ill-treating Homayoun Ghaleh and filed a complaint against him for resisting his authority and for assault.

Decisions were reached by prosecuting and judicial authorities on a number of cases of alleged ill-treatment by police in previous years.

In January the Berlin prosecuting authorities rejected Mustafa K.'s complaint that he was beaten, kicked and subjected to racist insults during a police search of his flat in July 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Mustafa K., who suffered bruising of the ribs and multiple bruising of the face, wrist, shoulders and arms, was himself charged with one count of assault and one of attempted assault, and with resisting officers in the exercise of their duty. An application by Mustafa K., a German national of Turkish origin, for a judicial review of the prosecuting authorities' decision not to charge the officers was later rejected on procedural grounds.

In February a Frankfurt court halted the trial of a doctor charged with "failing to render assistance" to Nigerian Kola Bankole and ordered the accused to pay dm 5,000 (us$2,700) to a charitable organization. Rejected asylum-seeker Kola Bankole died in 1994 after being bound and gagged by Federal Border Guard officers and injected with a sedative by the doctor when he physically resisted attempts to deport him from Frankfurt am Main airport (see Amnesty International Report 1996). None of the officers were charged in connection with Kola Bankole's death.

In May the trial took place of two officers accused of ill-treating Ahmet Delibas (see Amnesty International Report 1997). Ahmet Delibas, a Turkish national, alleged that the officers strangled him and punched him in the face in the back of a police car following his arrest outside a club in Hamm in North-Rhine/Westphalia in October 1995. Medical evidence showed that he had suffered serious injuries, including a fracture of the left cheekbone, and separate fractures to both eye sockets. Ahmet Delibas was himself accused of participating in an assault on one of the officers outside the club prior to his arrest. The court heard both cases simultaneously and found one officer guilty of negligent assault and fined him dm 4,500 (us$2,500). The second officer, and Ahmet Delibas, were acquitted of the charges against them

In June a Hanover police officer was acquitted of causing the death of Halim Dener in June 1994 through negligence (see Amnesty International Report 1995). The court found that Halim Dener, a 16-year-old Turkish Kurd, had been accidentally shot when the officer tried to put his service revolver back in its holster after it dropped to the ground following a struggle with the youth.

In July Hidayet Secil was fined dm 450 (us$250) for resisting police officers in the performance of their duty, and for assault. Hidayet Secil's own complaint that the same officers had ill-treated him during his arrest in July 1995 had already been rejected (see Amnesty International Report 1997)

In September, two Frankfurt police officers were charged with assaulting Mohamed Z. (see Amnesty International Report 1997). In the same month the Bremen prosecuting authorities rejected a criminal complaint of assault made by Aliu Bo in April 1996 (see Amnesty International Report 1997).

At the end of the year the trial continued of four Bernau police officers charged in February 1995 with ill-treating Vietnamese detainees in their custody in 1993 and 1994 (see Amnesty International Report 1995). It had opened in January 1996. Four other officers were acquitted of the same charges in September.

Throughout the year Amnesty International expressed concern to the authorities about fresh allegations of ill-treatment brought to its attention and called for them to be investigated promptly, impartially and thoroughly. In most cases, the organization received confirmation from the authorities that investigations were in progress.

In April Amnesty International expressed concern to the Berlin authorities that the allegations of ill-treatment made by Mustafa K. had not been subjected to an impartial examination. The organization's criticisms were rejected by the Berlin prosecuting authorities in June. In the same month Amnesty International expressed concern to the Brandenburg authorities about delays in examining allegations against eight Bernau police officers accused of ill-treating Vietnamese detainees in their custody. In July the Brandenburg Justice Minister reported that a number of factors had contributed to the delay in proceedings, including the fact that some witnesses had since left the country and had to be summoned to appear in court.

In June Amnesty International urged the Federal Minister of the Interior to instigate a full and impartial inquiry into the role and accountability of all agencies involved in the deportation process, following the death of Kola Bankole and the end of trial proceedings against the doctor involved in the attempt to forcibly deport him. No reply had been received by the end of the year.

In July Amnesty International published a report, Federal Republic of Germany: Continuing pattern of police ill-treatment, which detailed allegations received between April 1995 and April 1997 that police officers had used excessive or unwarranted force in restraining or arresting people, or had deliberately subjected detainees in their custody to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. The vast majority of the alleged victims were foreign nationals, including asylum-seekers, or members of ethnic minorities.

In a letter accompanying the report sent to Chancellor Helmut Kohl and to the heads of government of the 16 federal states, Amnesty International stated that the allegations it had documented provided further evidence of a clear pattern of abuse. Amnesty International also expressed concern to the authorities that in many cases criminal investigations into allegations of police ill-treatment had not been carried out promptly, impartially and thoroughly. Amnesty International called upon the federal and state governments to establish permanent, independent oversight bodies with the responsibility and authority to maintain statistics on complaints about ill-treatment by officers and on their outcome; conduct their own investigations into such complaints and recommend whether criminal and/or disciplinary charges should be brought against any of the officers involved, and whether compensation should be awarded to any of the complainants; and to perform a continuous assessment of the measures adopted by the police authorities to prevent the use of excessive force or deliberate ill-treatment. In its letter to Chancellor Helmut Kohl, Amnesty International also expressed concern at the German Government's rejection of the UN Human Rights Committee's recommendation that independent bodies be established for the investigation of complaints of ill-treatment by the police. The organization stated that the refusal to implement this recommendation was inconsistent with Resolution 1996/22 of the UN Commission on Human Rights, adopted on 19 April 1996, urging "all States Parties whose reports have been examined by treaty bodies to provide adequate follow-up to the observations and final comments of the treaty bodies on their reports". By the end of the year Amnesty International had received no substantive response from the federal authorities. Only four of the 16 state governments replied to the organization's call for permanent, independent oversight bodies; all rejected it.

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