- Notes from the Federal Palace
Contract children, institutionalised children, forcibly adopted children – late recognition of suffering and injustice
Switzerland is coming to terms with a dark chapter in its social history. The main victims were contract children, children in care, people held in administrative detention and those who faced compulsory adoption or sterilisation. Many of these people were subjected to physical, mental or sexual abuse over many years. Partly as a result of these traumatic experiences, many of them are living in precarious conditions to this day.
In recognition of the injustice they faced and by way of redress, the victims of such compulsory social measures and placements are to receive a solidarity contribution. On 30 September 2016, the Swiss Parliament therefore passed the Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981, earmarking 300 million Swiss francs to finance the plan.
In addition to compensation, the law envisages various measures for assisting the victims. Amongst other things, they are to receive advice and support from cantonal authorities and archives in completing applications and obtaining the necessary documents. The archives must also grant the victims simple and free access to files that concern them.
Anyone who considers himself or herself a victim under this law and who would like to claim a solidarity contribution must complete the relevant application form, either by themselves or with the aid of the cantonal authorities or archives, and send it to the Federal Office of Justice by 31 March 2018. All victims will receive the same amount. The sum, which will depend on the total number of applications received, will be a maximum of 25,000 francs per person. The first payments are to be made from April 2018 onwards.
Applications from the Swiss Abroad
The following special rules apply to applicants living outside Switzerland: Applications may be sent to the Federal Office of Justice by post, but may also be handed in directly at Swiss embassies or consulates. There, applicants will also have to obtain a life certificate and, where appropriate, provide a delivery address in Switzerland. Recipients of a solidarity contribution will only be subject to the special statutory regulations on tax, social welfare, social insurance and debt recovery if they are resident in Switzerland. People living outside Switzerland will be subject to the relevant national regulations.
Useful information, application forms and a guide are available in the three national languages on the website of the Federal Office of Justice: www.bj.admin.ch > Society > Compulsory social measures and placements.
For further information, please contact: FSZM secretariat (by phone: +41 58 462 42 84 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org)