The Story of our political initiative

The abuse of children and the lack of historical reappraisal is a pan-European problem. In this context Switzerland is a role model when it comes to dealing with the past. A political initiative has led to a comprehensive solution. At the center were: Truth about child abuses, Official recognition, Reparation, Prevention. This successful path is to be followed at the European level.  Switzerland’s experience shall be the basis for political work at the European level.

In Switzerland, tens of thousands of children and young people were indentured by the authorities to farms as a cheap source of labour, or placed in severely managed homes, or in secure institutions or even prisons, without any form of court ruling. These children and young people often experienced unspeakable suffering and injustice. In some cases they were exposed to immense physical and psychological violence, were exploited, sexually abused, and also suffered enormously because of the separation from their parents and siblings. In particular thanks to a popular initiative by the Guido Fluri Foundation -, with over 100 000 signatures collected, much changed at the social and political level ina short period of time, which resulted in a rethink. In record time, the Federal Act on Compulsory Social Measures and Placements prior to 1981 (CSMPA) was drafted and passed by both chambers of Parliament with clear majorities. The Act came into force on 1 April 2017, and the process of coming to terms with the past is now on its way.

The Swiss process of reappraisal was observed with great interest in neighbouring countries. As different and specific as cases of abuse are in the individual countries, people from many other European countries are affected by similar human rights violations. The positive Swiss experience is intended to support other European countries that are embarking on the process of coming to terms with the past or are already on this path. Guido Fluri, president of the foundation of the same name, which is dedicated to child protection, will again support the European political initiative, as he has already done in Switzerland.

An international symposium in Bern Mid september was a first step in this direction. The situation in the various European countries were examined and representatives of the Federal Office of Justice, among others, showed how Switzerland has implemented the process of reckoning with its past and how targeted self-help projects are helping survivors and victims, beyond legal solutions. The symposium was attended by international experts, affected persons and organisations representing them, representatives of the media from Switzerland and abroad. On the occasion of this symposium, the participants decided to launch a motion to the Council of Europe.