Parliament drafts legislation to compensate victims of forced sterilisations

The Swiss parliament is drafting legislation to compensate victims of forced sterilisations. The House of Representatives said the measure was necessary for Switzerland to close a "dark chapter in the history of psychiatry.

This content was published on March 24, 2000 - 15:55

The Swiss parliament is drafting legislation to compensate victims of forced sterilisations. The House of Representatives said the measure was necessary for Switzerland to close a "dark chapter in the history of psychiatry".

The measure comes in response to revelations that canton Vaud legally supported a policy of forced sterilisations on handicapped and mental patients. About 180 people were forcibly sterilised in Vaud between the 1920s and 1985, when the practice was banned in the canton.

But there are no national laws on forced sterilisations, and the House said it wanted to regulate the practice to ensure that errors of the past are not repeated. Directives published by the Swiss Academy for Medical Sciences in 1981, which are generally adhered to, informed the medical profession that forced sterilisations are unacceptable and should not be carried out.

However, last month the Academy declared that sterilisations were acceptable in specific circumstances. It said the welfare of the patient was paramount, and that these must benefit either physically or psychologically.

With the new law, the House of Representatives also wants to ensure that victims receive financial compensation. The House said this should be done rapidly as many of the victims were old and living in poor conditions.

swissinfo with agencies

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