Date: Thu, 3 Jul 97 19:14:08 CDT
From: Amnesty International <>
Subject: Germany: Foreigners still the main victims of continuing pattern

Foreigners still the main victims of continuing pattern of police ill-treatment

Amnesty International, AI INDEX: EUR 23/06/97, 3 July 1997

Further evidence of a worrying pattern of police ill-treatment where the main victims are foreigners—first identified by Amnesty International more than two years ago—is revealed in a new report published by the human rights organization today

Amnesty International's new report —Continuing Pattern of Police Ill-treatment— documents allegations received over the past two years, according to which German police officers have used excessive or unwarranted force in restraining or arresting people, or have deliberately subjected detainees to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

As in previous years, the vast majority of the victims are foreign nationals, including asylum-seekers, or members of ethnic minorities. In many instances, the alleged ill-treatment appears to have been racially motivated. Medical evidence shows the injuries suffered by detainees—mainly bruising and abrasions, and in some cases broken bones—to be consistent with their allegations of having been punched, kicked or struck with a police baton.

We recognize that the police have a difficult and often dangerous job, and that most encounters with members of the public do not result in allegations of ill-treatment. However, the authorities have a responsibility to ensure that deliberate ill-treatment, or excessive force amounting to ill-treatment, will not be tolerated under any circumstances, the organization said.

Amnesty International's report examines other evidence of police ill-treatment that has emerged over the past two years, including the findings of a study commissioned by the 16 Interior Ministers of the La[:]nder (federal states) and of a Committee of Inquiry set up by the Hamburg Parliament.

These—together with the conclusions of the Human Rights Committee which examined Germany's human rights record in November 1996— support Amnesty International's view that cases of alleged police ill-treatment are not isolated incidents but amount to a clear pattern of abuse, the organization said.

The report updates numerous cases of alleged police ill-treatment documented by Amnesty International in previous years, and the conclusions that emerge are the same as those presented in the organization's previous report: criminal investigations have been opened into all the allegations of police ill-treatment reported to Amnesty International, but in many cases they have not been carried out promptly, impartially and thoroughly.