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Special Flight

Premiere Date: July 1, 2013

'Special Flight' in Context

Special Flights

The coercive measures seen in Special Flight are intended not as a punishment, but as a guarantee of departure, and the implementation of deportation is entrusted to specially trained police officers. In cases of voluntary departure, the police meet an inmate in his cell and escort him to the plane. If the inmate does not want to leave on his own volition, a so-called “accompanied” flight is organized. The inmate is notified the day before departure. On the day of departure, he is handcuffed and accompanied by two plain-clothes officers on a scheduled flight to his final destination. He may, however, refuse to board.

The final possibility is a special flight chartered by the FOM. The only passengers aboard are deportees, police officers and FOM representatives. To avoid resistance, inmates are notified at the last moment. They are then taken to the airport in chains and escorted to the aircraft, where they are tied to their seats and equipped with helmets and diapers. A special flight may take up to 40 hours, during which the passengers remain tied to their seats. When there are prisoners from different nationalities on board, as is often the case, the planes stop in several countries.

The conditions of these deportations are a source of controversy. The Federation of Swiss Physicians opposes special flights for medical and ethical reasons and urges doctors to refuse to participate in deportations under duress, because providing proper medical supervision is considered impossible. Special flights have already cost three people their lives.

A special flight to a nearby destination can cost 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,657), and longer flights to places such as Africa can cost up to 200,000 Swiss francs ($206,568). The cost per deportee person can be from 15,000 to 23,000 Swiss francs. The annual cost is estimated at approximately 1.9 million Swiss francs ($1,962,676).

» Special Flight Press Kit.

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