Tied to their chairs, equipped with a helmet and diapers
The final possibility is a special flight chartered by the Federal Office for Migration (FOM). The only passengers aboard are the deported, police officers and FOM representatives. To avoid resistance, inmates are notified at the last moment. They are then taken to the airport where they are chained up. Tied to their chairs, equipped with a helmet and diapers, inmates are escorted into the aircraft. A special flight may take up to 40 hours, during which they remain tied to their seats. For these flights to be profitable, prisoners from different nationalities are boarded and the plane stops in several countries.
The conditions of these deportations are at the centre of controversy. Switzerland is the only country in Europe that organises such heavy chaining up. Many people condemn this practice considered inhuman and endangering the lives of those that are being deported. The Swiss Medical Association opposes special flights for medical and ethical reasons. It urges doctors to refuse participation in deportations under duress, because proper medical supervision is considered impossible. Special flights have already cost three people their lives.
Although the FOM has never admitted these facts, testimonies denounce the methods it uses to carry out deportation by hook or by crook. The FOM is regularly accused of sending people to a country other than their home country by bribing local authorities.
A special flight can cost CHF 20,000.- to a nearby destination, and up to CHF 200,000.- for long-haul flights to Africa, for example. The cost per deported person can thus be between CHF 15,000.- and 23,000.- The annual cost is estimated at approximately CHF 1.9 million. The national airline "Swiss" and the budget airline "Hello" responded positively to the tender of the Confederation. The director of "Hello" has no problem with performing this task: "Billing is done like for any other flight. Transporting a football team or asylum applicants to Nigeria comes down to the same thing!"