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Why Switzerland takes asylum seekers’ assets

Denmark’s decision to confiscate valuables from asylum seekers is similar to the practice in Switzerland, which has been in effect for more than 20 years. It is coming in for criticism too. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

This content was published on January 15, 2016 - 15:35

Swiss law states that asylum seekers have to disclose their assets. According to certain criteria – such as the amount and/or lack of proof of the origin of the assets – the authorities can demand that it be handed over. According to Léa Wertheimer from the State Secretariat for Migration, the law says that asylum seekers - that have some means - contribute towards the costs they incur in Switzerland. These are the costs from asylum request procedures and receiving shelter.

More than 100 asylum seekers had to hand over their savings to the Swiss authorities last year. Those arriving without money or valuables will also have to pay eventually. When working, they must give up to 10 per cent of their wages during the first 10 years of their stay or until they have paid back a total of 15.000 francs. The Swiss Refugee Council is critical of the practice. 

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