Scores of conscientious objectors to military service served sentences of imprisonment or compulsory work imposed by military tribunals. There were reports of ill-treatment in police custody. In January the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT), a committee of experts set up under the European Convention for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, published a report on its visit to Switzerland in 1991, with the government's response. The ECPT stated that it had received "numerous" allegations of ill-treatment in police custody and concluded that "the risk of being ill-treated in police custody cannot be dismissed". It made various recommendations to increase safeguards against ill-treatment, including the rights for all detainees in police custody to have access to a lawyer and to inform family or friends of their arrest. Although a national referendum in 1992 had voted to introduce, in principle, a civilian alternative to military service, this was still not available during the year. However, draft federal legislation, covering the grounds on which conscientious objector status might be granted, admission procedures to civilian service and the nature and length of civilian service, was submitted to a national consultation between July and October. A revised text and the results of the consultation were due to be considered by parliament in 1994. Meanwhile, under the Military Penal Code, refusal of military service remained a criminal offence. However, where a tribunal concluded that a conscript was unable to reconcile military service with his conscience because of "fundamental ethical values" he was sentenced to a period of work in the public interest and did not acquire a criminal record. Conscientious objectors failing to qualify for a sentence of compulsory work because, for example, the military tribunals considered that they opposed military service on political grounds, continued to receive sentences of up to 12 months' imprisonment. Many sentenced conscientious objectors did not serve their sentences during the year. In several cantons moratoria were in force on the implementation of such sentences pending the introduction of legislation on civilian service. Some objectors sentenced to prison terms benefited from these, while others lodged appeals. Nevertheless, a number of conscientious objectors entered prison: they were prisoners of conscience. Andrea Cadalbert began a three-month prison sentence in April for refusing military service. He had already completed initial military service training and eight refresher courses when he concluded that further military service was incompatible with his conscientiously held beliefs. There were reports of ill-treatment in police custody, some of which referred to earlier years. It was reported that formal complaints rarely led to the conviction of police officers and that the police responded to medical evidence of injuries in a number of cases by stating that the injuries had been sustained while resisting arrest. Allegations of ill-treatment often concerned people of non-European ethnic origin. In July Sidat Sisay, a Gambian national, alleged to the federal authorities that he was ill-treated by Geneva airport police in January. He was in transit between the Gambia and the USA where he was due to receive urgent medical treatment for severe lower back pain and walking difficulties. On disembarkation at Geneva airport he was stopped by three policemen who accused him of carrying a forged passport and told him that he could not continue his journey. Sidat Sisay alleged that he was then ordered to strip naked in their office and was beaten and kicked on his back, leg and sides. Sidat Sisay denied his passport was forged and was released after questioning by two officials. He said they confirmed the validity of his passport and advised that he be allowed to continue his journey, as scheduled, on a flight leaving the following morning. However, the next day the police and the airline concerned informed him his flight was cancelled, apparently because they believed there might be irregularities in his passport. He was held in an airport cell for two days, then put on a flight back to the Gambia. The airline subsequently issued him with a refund ticket and he travelled to the USA in March. A medical report issued after his return home from Geneva recorded bruising to his lower back and chest and damage to his right knee, aggravating his existing medical condition. It concluded that his injuries were consistent with his allegations of ill-treatment. In November the Canton of Geneva's Justice and Police Department informed Sidat Sisay that an investigation had concluded that he had been subjected to a body search but not stripped naked or beaten. Sidat Sisay maintained his allegations of ill-treatment and offered to identify the police officers involved. Amnesty International appealed for the release of prisoners of conscience and expressed concern that under the Military Penal Code people continued to be punished for refusing military service on grounds of conscience. It submitted comments to the Federal authorities on the draft legislation on civilian service, welcoming several of its proposals. The organization also sought information on the steps being taken to investigate allegations of ill-treatment and on the outcome of inquiries opened into such allegations.

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