Thousands of people who were forced to work on farms or live in foster homes as children will start to receive compensation in January from the Swiss state.
The so-called “slave labour” policy of forcibly relocating children from families deemed no longer fit to look after them took place from the 1940s until 1981. In extreme cases, the removal of children was based on the fact that their parents were unmarried. The violation of the rights of tens of thousands of children left a deep stain on the Swiss conscience.
Last year, parliament voted in favour of a CHF300 million ($303 million) compensation fund. The first group of 366 victims will from January receive up to CHF25,000 each. Priority will go the eldest claimants or those in ill health.
Some 4,310 people have applied to the Justice Ministry for a payout. Victims still have until the end of March next year to apply for compensation. Payouts were due to start after this date, but it was brought forward when the authorities realised that the threshold of 12,000 claimants is unlikely to be reached.
The “solidarity fund” was formed with contributions from the federal authorities, some cantons and local communities plus unnamed individuals.