Solidarity contribution

Legal requirements and purpose

The Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981 (CSMPA) provides the legal basis for payments to be made to victims. In particular, it provides for what is known as a "solidarity contribution". This is intended as recognition of the injustice suffered by the victims, as well as being an expression of social solidarity.

The following persons are entitled to a solidarity contribution:

  • those who were affected by compulsory social measures or placement in Switzerland prior to 1981 and
  • whose physical, psychological or sexual integrity or mental development was directly and seriously impaired as a result of such measures. This includes, in particular, child labourers (known as "contract children"), children placed in homes or with foster families, or children subjected to administrative detention who experienced physical or psychological violence, sexual abuse or economic exploitation. Persons who were forced to give up their children/release their children for adoption or were forced to undergo sterilisation/castration or who were subjected to medical experimentation or administered medication against their will or without their knowledge are also considered to be directly and seriously impaired.

Applications for a solidarity contribution originally had to be submitted by the end of March 2018 at the latest. As many people, for a variety of reasons, were unable to submit their application in time, Parliament amended the CSMPA as of 1 November 2020 and abolished the deadline for submitting applications. This means that those affected can now submit an application at any time during their lifetime.

What is the procedure for submitting an application?

The application form and guidelines with explanatory notes are available below. Further useful information can be found in the leaflets also included below. Please note that none of this documentation is available in English.

If you need assistance with submitting an application or searching for files, contact a cantonal contact point for victims or a state archive:

The application for a solidarity contribution must be submitted to the Federal Office of Justice (see "Contact" column).

Electronic mailbox (only for cantonal contact points – for the delivery of documents from the archives):

How does the application procedure work?

Applications are examined by the CSMP Unit at the Federal Office of Justice. If the information and details contained in the application are not deemed sufficient to be able make a decision on whether the applicant can be recognised as a victim, the necessary additional clarifications are initiated (e.g. enquiries with the applicant or in archives).

The CSMP Unit also consults the Advisory Committee before deciding on an application. The committee makes recommendations, in particular, on procedural issues, on questions of principle and on particularly delicate (borderline) applications. The advisory commission has been performing its tasks since 1 January 2021 in the form of an extra-parliamentary committee; it was initially set up as a group of experts with a temporary mandate.

The Advisory Committee consists of nine members, some of whom were themselves affected by compulsory social measures and placements. It usually meets four times a year (2023 meeting dates: 28 February, 23 May, 22 August and 21 November). The minutes of each meeting are published:

Applications are processed according to priority. Applications from seriously ill persons (which must be proven by means of a medical certificate) or from those who are over 75 years of age are given priority. All other applications are processed in the order in which they are received.

The decision on the application by the CSMP Unit is issued in the form of a ruling. If the application is approved by the CSMP Unit, meaning the applicant is recognised as a victim, the solidarity contribution is usually paid out within two to three weeks.

If the application is rejected by the CSMP Unit, an appeal against the decision can be initially filed with the Federal Office of Justice. The application will then be reviewed again. An appeal against a (renewed) negative decision on an objection by the Federal Office of Justice can then be filed with the Federal Administrative Court in St Gallen.  

Asserting related financial claims and benefits

Any person who has been recognised as a victim within the meaning of the CSMPA and has received a solidarity contribution in connection with compulsory social measures and placements prior to 1981 cannot assert, in principle, any further claims for compensation or satisfaction against successor authorities of the communal authorities involved at the time. Such claims are also regularly subject to a time limit.

However, any benefits that individual eligible victims received in 2014/2015 from the Swiss Solidarity emergency aid fund – or similar financial benefits from the Canton of Vaud – or between 1988 and 1992 as part of the reparations for "The vagabond children" campaign, are not counted towards the solidarity contribution.

If a victim of compulsory social measures and placement also suffered sexual assault within the Catholic Church, they may also submit an application for compensation to the commission for compensation for victims of sexual assault within the church ("Kommission Genugtuung für Opfer von verjährten sexuellen Übergriffen im kirchlichen Umfeld"). This commission was set up by the Swiss Bishops’ Conference and the Association of Major Religious Superiors of Switzerland and can award satisfaction payments of up to a maximum of CHF 20 000 in individual cases from a fund set up specifically for this purpose. Such compensation payments by the Catholic Church are not offset against the solidarity contribution; the same applies vice versa. Further information can be found on the Swiss Bishops’ Conference website and under contact addresses (church contact points and other support centres).

(These documents are not available in English)

Legal basis

Documents

Last modification 28.11.2022

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Contact

Federal Office of Justice
CSMP Unit
Bundesrain 20
CH-3003 Bern
T +41 58 462 42 84
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https://www.e-doc.admin.ch/content/bj/en/home/gesellschaft/fszm/solidaritaetsbeitrag.html