Information, SEM, 15.01.2016
Confiscation of assets part of Swiss law for 20 years
The right to confiscate assets has been provided for in the Asylum Act for more than 20 years. The Asylum Act has been approved by the Swiss electorate on several occasions in popular votes. The provisions on the confiscation of assets permit the authorities to confiscate any assets in excess of 1000 Swiss francs held by asylum seekers who enter Switzerland (but subject to a limit of 15 000 Swiss francs per person). In this way, asylum seekers contribute to the costs that they occasion in Switzerland. This practice is based on a well-established principle: other people living in Switzerland must reimburse the costs that they occasion to the social assistance fund – or they only receive assistance if they have no assets of their own (other than a small allowance). Assets that are proven to be earned income or social assistance benefits may not be confiscated.
The confiscation of assets in asylum cases affects a specific group of asylum seekers (those holding Permit N) and persons who do not have refugee status but who have been granted temporary admission to Switzerland and have not lived here for longer than seven years. In almost every case, the confiscated assets consist of cash. Switzerland does not under any circumstances confiscate items of emotional value, such as wedding rings or similar valuables.
In 2015, the Swiss authorities confiscated assets in 112 cases – the total value amounted to CHF 210 000. The assets were paid into the federal treasury. In theory, around 45 000 persons (as of end of November 2015) are subject to these regulations. As the vast majority of asylum seekers are destitute, assets are confiscated from only a small number of persons.
(These documents are not available in English)
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