Logo Assembly Logo Hemicycle

Parliamentarians visit detainees in Zurich Airport prison

Strasbourg, 18.10.2013 – Ten parliamentarians from eight different countries visited the deportation section of the prison at Zurich Airport this week as part of a training programme on carrying out visits to immigration detention centres, organised by PACE’s Migration Committee.

During the two-day training (16-17 October 2013) the parliamentarians met and talked to detainees, the management team of the prison and other staff, including medical personnel. They discussed the basic principles to follow during such visits, and what to look out for, with experts in the field including the former head of the Council of Europe’s Anti-torture Committee (CPT) Silvia Casale, Tanya Norton from the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) and Marco Mona from the Swiss national torture prevention mechanism.

The training is a follow-up to the recent launch in Strasbourg of “A guide for parliamentarians visiting immigration detention centres”, which aims to raise awareness of the right of many parliamentarians to visit detention centres as part of their mandate, and to assist them in carrying out such visits. PACE President Jean-Claude Mignon, writing in the foreword to the guide, summed up the aim of such visits: “parliamentarians need to see with their eyes, listen with their ears, speak with their mouths and even smell with their noses the condition of migrants and asylum seekers”.