Compensation so far paid to 6,000 Swiss ‘slave children’

A major photo exhibition on slave children and their stories took place in Bern from November 2016 to March 2017 Keystone

The Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) has processed some 6,000 claims for victims of forced labour and abuse. The aim is to deal with all the claims, totalling more than 9,000, by the end of the year. 

This content was published on May 20, 2019

For the compensation requests already processed, the amounts due have for the most part been paid, the FOJ said in a statementExternal link on Monday. In addition, all the priority requests from very old or seriously ill people were completed by the end of March. 

The overwhelming majority of applications had been accepted, the office said. Less than 1% were rejected because their authors failed to “demonstrate that their victimisation was plausible”. 

The Swiss government has agreed to payExternal link up to CHF25,000 ($24,800) in compensation to people who, as children, were victims of forced labour policies or placed in institutions, often suffering abuse or neglect. The “Verdingkinder” (slave children) practice continued until 1981. 

Around 12,000-15,000 victims are still alive, the FOJ estimates. 

+ Read more about the historical background to “slave children” 

The government announced the CHF300 million compensation scheme in September 2016, and it was launched in December of that year. The authorities had earlier offered official apologies to the survivors of this dark period of Swiss history. 

The compensation scheme came after businessman Guido Fluri, himself a victim, launched an initiative in 2014 to spur reparations. 

Victims officially had until March 31, 2018 to put in their claims for compensation. Just ahead of the deadline a spike in interest was reported.

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