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Victims forcibly placed with new families as kids & abused there to be paid off in Switzerland

The so-called ‘contract children’ who were taken away from their parents and passed on to other families, often finding themselves in abusive conditions, will begin receiving compensation in January, the Swiss government has said.

The state-backed program, which authorities now describe as a “dark chapter in the social history of Switzerland,” went on for several decades and was only terminated in 1981. The scheme saw thousands of children forcibly removed from their biological parents, whom the state considered incapable of providing care to their children because of alcohol or drug problems, poor health and other reasons. The offspring of single parents and orphans were also affected.

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After being taken away, the children were placed with other families, often those running farms or social institutions. While some managed to find new, happy homes, others ended up in abusive conditions where they were treated as cheap labor, with some even being sexually assaulted or sterilized.

Swiss authorities acknowledged its role the controversial relocations in 2013 after years of campaigning by victims. Parliament voted in favor of compensating those affected three years later.

In January, the first 366 victims will receive compensation of up to 25,000 francs, the Swiss Justice Office said in a statement. The initial payments will be handed over to those of “very old age” or suffering from diseases, it added.

The less urgent cases will be reviewed after that, it said, adding, that many applicants will likely get their money earlier than expected. According to the government’s estimations, around 15,000 ‘contract children’ who “suffered injustice that has had lifelong consequences,” are currently alive and eligible for reparation.

READ MORE: Swiss politician arrested for helping 4 refugee children illegally enter the country

However, the Justice Office has so far received only 4,310 claims, and with the deadline to apply expiring on March 31, 2018, the full number is unlikely to be met.

Compensation funding is provided by the Swiss government, but eight cantons and 20 communes also contributed after being encouraged to do so by Bern, a statement said.

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