First I would like to say that I didn’t experience any kind of torture from the police in Basel. They arrested me in a lawful manner (on the basis of accusations from one of their citizens that I threatened him in order to obtain money). The only abuse of position by the police was when they pressurised me to sign a form (which would allow a court to make a judgment on my case without my attendance in court). I refused to sign it. During 7 lonely days of custody I took the opportunity to rest from the hard travelling conditions I had encountered crossing the border. The Cell was more than 15 square metres, with a radio and 72 TV channels and a free shaving kit …in Serbia it would be unbelievable, but I’ll write about Serbian custody another time. I was only disturbed by prison guards calling me to exercise and by another one who brought us food (he tried to keep/steal cake from me during the weekend; idiot). Swiss people have high living standards but they’ll take any opportunity for more money. They are taught to think so.
After they transferred/displaced me to a deportation prison, which was an eye opener. First they put people in a cell which holds people for fast track deportation, those who will be leaving within 5 days. These are the worst prison guards I encountered. They attempt to make life uncomfortable for the people imprisoned there. For example people are given cigarettes but no lighter, so they ask them 100 times for a light and are only given one a couple of days later. 5 days later I was moved to a block of cells (“station”) where they put people who will wait longer to be deported or freed. These guard’s behaviour was better. People used to incarceration will find conditions more comfortable here. If you refuse to adapt to the prison regime there will always be problems with guards and other imprisoned people. For example I refuse to work and other people imprisoned will be angry because “I try to be somebody especial”. I was in the station with Muslims, who were intolerant of anyone different (although people from Serbia are no better than people in Islamic societies). The management in prison also doesn’t like such behaviour because they are afraid that others will be influenced by such behaviour. It could financially damage the prison. How the management succeeds to keep such mentality, unless they have cooperators, I don’t understand. I did notice that those who tried to put pressure on me to go to work were those who were to be freed i.e. they were not going to be deported. I suppose that their freedom was in question so management (police also use this when dealing with foreigners) abuse this position to put pressure on them to cooperate. Many people have spent more than 10,000 dollars in order to reach the EU, so deportation is a big problem for them. On the other side, management of any prison can’t control the situation if they don’t have cooperators within the prison population.
I read in a German newspaper an explanation from one ex-prisoner, about unwritten rules in their prisons; I have noticed that the same rules exist in Belgrade. If these rules exist everywhere it is not by accident. It is in the interest of every management to allow someone to become the main boss and then they use these bosses as cooperators. Cooperators secure the wishes of management in order to get, to keep, some privileges. In Belgrade, privilege is to have warm water every evening for a shower. The motivation of all management is to force “petty” criminals (“petty” are those like me those who haven’t taken up criminality as a lifestyle) to stop to breaking the law as they will have fear ending up in prison again (they know that in prison they’ll be tortured again). So, first, cops beat people who break the law, and later “bigger” criminals torture them in custody and in prison. So, “bigger” cooperators with prison guards and with police work together to make money. Therefore I think that even deportation in Sibir/Siberia was better than in today’s prisons. In Sibir/Siberia when intellectuals and political rebels were deported they were surrounded like minded people, so they could unite themselves and refuse to attack each other.
Except cooperators, prison guards try to create problems for those unused to the prison system. From stupid things like having to ask for something to clean yourself 100 times inside of two days in order to get it; to more serious things like: “Mr. Sasha, could we go into your office to make conversation?” with his hand placed on my cell. Personally, I think it is a dirty tactic to try to create an illusion to others that I cooperate with the management or with the police. In a criminal prison such illusions would be very dangerous; I would have to attack the guard in order to prove to the other inmates that I’m not in collusion with the management. It was not as dangerous as this was a prison for deportation where most people are not criminals.
It is my opinion that the guards didn’t like me because I didn’t adapt to their regime therefore I “created problems”: I never said hello to them, I asked/demanded in writing twice for my rights in prison (to get a cell with one bed because of too little space) - it was refused, twice I wrote wanting to talk with a social worker - they never offered this because they knew that there I’d speak against them)…
My opinion is that the living conditions in criminal prisons in Switzerland are 100 times better than this one for deportation. In criminal prison, after 8 hours of work an inmate earns 600 SFR (400 euro) monthly which is important for poor foreigners, there are sports activities (sports fields, a gym, etc). In deportation prison people can work 2.5 hours for 15 SFr (10 euro) daily, 3 days weekly & activities don’t exist. People are given 2hours exercise in a space 20m x 25m. In this exercise space there are ping-pong tables and table football there is also basketball facilities but ball is made from sponge (!) so nobody uses it. There is TV in every cell, with 23 cable channels compared with 72 channels in criminal prison, but later management took away our remote-controls (nobody understood why). Radio could be rented for 10 SFr monthly (in criminal custody it is free). I was only allowed to order a newspaper once a week, and it had to be from their list of newspapers (only European edition of Serbian “News”), while in criminal prison people can order all newspapers and magazines everyday which exist in their shops (providing they have the money to buy them). Arabs and Russians were unable to get newspapers because they did not have their newspaper on the list created by management.
The only channel from Ex-Yu was a Slovenian one, although people from Slovenia don’t end up in prisons for deportation (besides, Serbo-Croatian is understood by most people from ex-Yu republics/states; Slovenian is generally spoken only by people in Slovenia). The prison list for ordering food was no better. Some cigarettes, cakes, mineral water, and hygiene products were the only things available… whilst in criminal prison people can go into a shop and buy everything; from shoes to food…I had to order cake with crystal sugar but my stomach wouldn’t accept it. Our cultural differences mean we have different dietary requirements. Swiss people eat very little bread, so we got 3 small pieces of bread daily, plus some spaghetti each day and other cheap food, so I was always hungry. Because there was no choice, I had to buy cakes with crystal sugar in order to get energy. They kept me there 5 months out of a maximum 15 months. Their answer, excuse is always: people don’t stay here as long as in criminal prisons so therefore the same regulations are not needed. This applies even to medical help. I was sick from having the same breakfast every day for 5 months: micro-butter (fat) with micro-marmalade (with crystal sugar again). Doctor fulfils the wishes of management rather than those of the imprisoned people i.e. his purpose is to save the state money. Therefore foreigners cannot get adequate medical help, as I said with the excuse that “people don’t stay long time in prison for deportation”.
The cells all have two or four beds, except in every station there is one cell with one bed and another with 8 beds. For the first 5 days I was in the cell with 8 beds and the rest of time I was in a cell with 2 beds. My cell was 9 square metres plus a 2 square metre toilet with shower. EU Convention regarding prison states that cells should have a minimum of 8 square metres per person, but this rule can be manipulated by building high instead of wide cells. Therefore I say my cell is for one person but inside they set up two beds. I read in a German newspaper that 2 people got compensation from court because the judge decided that their cell was too small making the conditions inhuman. I don’t have the money to pay lawyers to take my case to court, but it would be good because if I won others could follow my example and it would have huge financial implications, perhaps forcing the authorities to consider letting people go free instead of pushing them into prisons which are not built/constructed for so many people. In any case, twice I demanded in writing to get a cell with one bed but I was always refused. This mentality (in Belgrade also) is good for the management of the prison: everybody “must” accept the conditions of life in prison and the way of life in it, like the others do. People shouldn’t rebel and shouldn’t demand anything especially for himself. When you try to encourage others to make demands, you are immediately faced with sceptical answers and a cynical view of the chance of success.
Therefore rebellions in prisons can be created only by leaders within the prison community because everybody follows them. Nobody has the courage to be different in prison; everybody quickly adapts himself to the unwritten rules, which is also the case when in custody in Belgrade (12 people live together in a 30 square metre cell).
So, the bathroom had a shower which only had warm water and a veil instead of a door. It is only one metre from the bed; you can hear everything, providing too much intimacy. Ventilation was fortunately good. There is no privacy, people are thrown together with those from other cultures: the Chechen was a hygienic person but a patriarchal Muslim (he couldn’t accept that I walked around in the cell without a T-Shirt) and we hardly spoke because he couldn’t speak foreign languages; the man from India was a good person; the man from Bosnia was totally “counter”, always nervous so I lost my temper with him, he was always on the side of management and he was always “smartest”. Most people in prisons for deportation (in custodies also) are nervous because of their unsure situation, they don’t know what will happen to them and they spent a lot of money to come to the EU. As I said, the bathroom only had warm water so unless you buy mineral water you must wait ‘til the cells open before you have the opportunity to have cold water for drinking. We always received our meals in our cells, after they have been closed, although to the House Order people should eat in a common room and cells should only be closed after the dishes have been washed. This means we were locked up half hour earlier than we should be every time, and we could only wash our dishes once the cells were opened (it means the cell stinks of food all night). If somebody wants to visit doctor, social worker, etc, he must fill out a blue form. These weren’t readily available and had to be asked for. Later, they restricted us to asking for one at exactly 11 a.m. if you asked earlier or later it was not possible to get one. Besides, at 11 a.m. they give you lunch in your cells, so it is harder for guards to bring food and forms in at the same time, but management decided this should be so. Books in Serbo-Croatian didn’t exist there, except the Bible. At visiting time, people can receive books, magazines, Discman, and money which go to konnto in prison…
Of course, even this situation is better than Serbian custody or prison, but it is much worst than criminal custody or criminal prison in Switzerland. In criminal prison people can have instruments, PC, etc, and I heard in Denmark DVDs can be rented, special channels on TV can also be rented, if a person doesn’t work he gets 30 euro weekly…so the question is: is it better that people in Switzerland become criminals rather than having illegal status? My opinion is that in Switzerland it is much better to be criminal than illegal. Prisons for deportation are simply worst than criminal ones although people are usually only without a visa or without documents.
In summary, I can add that governing-courts (Verwaltungsgericht), who decide who stays in deportation prisons, fulfil the wishes of police in relation to foreigners. They fabricate, create, any stupidity if they want to keep some person in prison. Parts of the police have right wing views concerning foreigners. The security who lead people from prison to the airport, often use violent methods. In Zurich, they beat one person when they didn’t succeed in deporting him. They tried to deport one man from Algeria 3 times, but he cut his hand before the aeroplane departed, so they failed to deport him and consequently they beat him badly (despite the fact he did not fight the security personnel). I received some info from an organisation that this man finally got his freedom & it is very good news (he was a good person). Although this freedom only means that they let you to go out unmonitored in Switzerland, if they catch you again they put you in prison again (although they should send such people to a communal house for asylum seekers/refugees).
Criminal courts also discriminate against foreigners; resulting in these courts breaking the human rights of foreigners much more than those of its domestic citizens. For example, they made my judgment without my presence, although I was extradited against my will (they said because it is a readmission-deportation of an illegal person, therefore I did not possess any rights allowing me to make a complaint to their federal court, which is an obligation with extradition) with Serbian cops in the aeroplane. So, I was prevented attending court against my will. Besides, the court sent the judgment in German (instead of Serbian) to my Brother’s address, with a time-limit for complaint (10 days). But a letter takes a minimum 7 days to go from Serbia to Switzerland. Even the assault/threat was not proven because it came over as an anonymous returned email from the person who called the cops. But they say that I sent it, so the court took this as proof because I am a foreigner and he is a domestic citizen…
That’s all for this time, soon I’ll send text about situation in Serbian custody in Belgrade, where I finished after arriving in Belgrade.