Chronology of the political inquiry

The 1980s

Reappraisal of "The vagabond children"

From the 1980s onwards, the fate of the Yenish children who had been forcibly placed outside of the home begins to be dealt with politically at federal level (known as "The vagabond children" campaign). Important stages in the process include the apology by the President of the Confederation Alphons Egli on 3 June 1986, an investigation ordered by Parliament into the "relief organisation" involved at the time, support for those affected in their search for files, and financial compensation totalling CHF 11 million for the 2200 victims.

From the 1990s

Procedural requests in Parliament

From the end of the 1990s onwards, various procedural requests are made demanding an investigation into the topic and reappraisal of compulsory social measures and placements or individual aspects of them. However, the first procedural requests are unsuccessful; for example, the two chambers of Swiss parliament did not support legislation that had already been drafted on the rehabilitation of forced sterilised persons. It is not until the mid-2000s that the first majorities in favour of a reappraisal are found.


Commemorative event and apology to the victims of administrative detention

At a commemorative event in Hindelbank correctional facility on 10 September 2010, Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and cantonal representatives apologise for the injustice and suffering inflicted on persons subjected to administrative detention.


Designation of cantonal contact points

On 26 February 2013, the Conference of Cantonal Ministers of Social Affairs (SODK) recommends that the cantons designate contact points to support victims in coming to terms with their past. The cantonal state archives, coordinated by the Conference of Directors of Archives, also sets up contact points to support victims in their search for files.

National commemorative event and official apology

A national commemorative event is held in Bern on 11 April 2013 for all victims of compulsory social measures and placements: children exploited for cheap labour (known as Verdingkinder or "contract children") and children placed in institutional care, people placed in administrative detention, victims of forced sterilisation and forced adoption, as well as victims of medical experimentation. Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga and representatives of the cantons, churches and associations publicly apologise to the victims.

Establishment of a round table

In June 2013, Federal Councillor Sommaruga sets up a round table and appoints former Federal Councillor and member of the Council of States Hansruedi Stadler to head it as the first delegate. Round table participants include affected persons and representatives of affected persons' organisations as well as authorities, institutions and organisations. The Round Table has the task of preparing a thorough reappraisal, initiating measures and providing support. As of October 2013, the function of delegate is transferred to the Deputy Director of the Federal Office of Justice, Luzius Mader.

  • Runder Tisch

    Delegierter für Opfer von fürsorgerischen Zwangsmassnahmen
    (This document is not available in English)

Federal Act on the Rehabilitation of Persons placed in Administrative Detention adopted

On 6 September 2013, Parliament adopts the Federal Act on the Rehabilitation of Persons placed in Administrative Detention. It includes the recognition of the injustice committed against people who were placed in administrative detention, and provides for an academic inquiry, the archiving of files and the right to inspect them. Financial compensation is expressly excluded from the legislation. The law comes into force on 1 August 2014.


Emergency aid fund set up

An emergency aid fund is set up on 15 April 2014 on the initiative of the Round Table: victims who find themselves in financial difficulty can receive emergency financial aid (one-off contributions of between CHF 4000 and CHF 12 000). The fund is administered by the Swiss Solidarity Chain and financed with voluntary contributions amounting to CHF 6.9 million, in particular from the cantons, various cities and communes, the churches, as well as private organisations, companies and individuals.

In July 2015, the work of the emergency aid fund is completed with a total of 1117 people having received financial support.  

(These documents are not available in English)

Round Table report and recommendations

In August 2014, the Round Table publishes a report with recommendations. The recommendations include in particular the recognition of injustice towards victims, financial compensation for them, an academic inquiry and measures to raise public awareness.

Establishment of an independent expert commission on administrative detention

On 5 November 2014, the Federal Council appoints an Independent Expert Commission (IEC) to investigate administrative detention prior to 1981 (press release). In doing so, it takes into account the relationship to other compulsory social measures and placements. The research is carried out from 2015 to 2018; the research programme is allocated CHF 10 million.

Submission of a popular initiative on reparation

On 19 December 2014, a non-partisan committee, headed by the Guido Fluri Foundation, submits a popular initiative on reparation. It calls, in particular, for the creation of a fund of CHF 500 million for the victims of compulsory social measures and for an academic inquiry.


Federal Council counter-proposal to the Reparation Initiative: Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981 (CSMPA)

On 24 June 2015, the Federal Council presents a counter-proposal to the Reparation Initiative. The draft provides for the recognition of the injustices committed and the payment of financial compensation to victims totalling up to CHF 250 - 300 million. In addition, the files are to be secured and access to them for those affected is to be regulated.

After conducting the consultation procedure, the Federal Council submits to Parliament on 4 December 2015 the dispatch on the Federal Popular Initiative "Reparation for contract children and victims of compulsory social measures (Reparation Initiative)" and on the indirect counter-proposal to the initiative (Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981).

Parliament discusses the counter-proposal and finally adopts the CSMPA on 30 September 2016 with a clear majority (Parliamentary deliberations 15.082).


Issue of a special issue stamp

On the initiative of the Round Table, Swiss Post dedicates a special issue stamp to the victims of compulsory social measures and placements on 8 September 2016, with a surcharge of 50 centimes. The additional revenue is to flow into the emergency aid fund.


Launch of the "Welfare and Coercion" National Research Programme 76

On 22 February 2017, the Federal Council mandates the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) with the National Research Programme "Welfare and Coercion – Past, Present and Future" (NRP 76).

The research is to be carried out from 2018 to 2023 and includes 29 projects. The programme is allocated CHF 18 million.

CSMPA comes into force

The Federal Act on the Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981 (CSMPA) comes into force on 1 April 2017. It comprises:

  • the payment of a solidarity contribution of CHF 25 000 per victim
  • counselling and support through cantonal contact points and archives for victims and other persons affected
  • other support measures for the benefit of victims (in particular, self-help projects)
  • an academic inquiry into the subject matter.

The Federal Office of Justice is responsible for implementing the CSMPA. The unit responsible for processing applications for a solidarity contribution is to be supported by an advisory committee.


Dissolution of the Round Table

With the implementation of the CSMPA, the most important purpose of the Round Table has been fulfilled. On 8 February 2018, the last meeting takes place and the Round Table is dissolved. On 17 May 2018, Federal Councillor Simonetta Sommaruga pays tribute to its work at a closing meeting.

(Initial) expiry of the deadline for applications for a solidarity contribution

Under the CSMPA, the deadline for submitting applications for a solidarity contribution ends on 31 March 2018. Around 9000 applications are submitted to the Federal Office of Justice before this deadline. Of these, 8690 applications are approved and payments totalling CHF 217 million are made.


Publication of the results of the IEC

On 2 September 2019, the IEC publishes its findings on administrative detention in 10 volumes. The academic results make it clear that this was a phenomenon of great magnitude. During the 20th century, authorities locked away at least 60 000 people across Switzerland in at least 648 institutions, without them having committed an offence and without a trial.

The IEC is subsequently dissolved.

(These documents are not available in English)


Abolition of the deadline for applications for solidarity contributions

On 19 June 2020, Parliament decides to abolish the deadline for submitting applications for a solidarity contribution. It thus takes up a call by the victims that there should be no cut-off date for the payment of such contributions. The abolition of the deadline comes into force on 1 November 2020. This means that affected persons have the opportunity to submit an application at any time during their lifetime.

2022 - 2024

Publication of the findings of the "Welfare and Coercion" NRP 76

The publication and dissemination of the findings of the Welfare and Coercion National Research Programme 76 is planned between 2022 and 2024.


For the complete documentation see the pages in German, French or Italian.

Last modification 22.06.2022

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