Switzerland, Denmark Seizing Assets From Refugees

Switzerland and Denmark have announced plans to seize assets from refugees over a certain amount to help pay for their upkeep.

In Switzerland, assets worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs (915 Euro) are already being taken by authorities, Swiss broadcaster SRF’s 10 vor 10 news program reports.

The refugee is given a receipt for the assets, and can get them back if the person decides to leave Switzerland within seven months. Jewelry and other personal items are not confiscated.

Stefan Frey, from refugee aid group Schweizerische Fl├╝chtlingshilfe, blasted the practice as “undignified” and said “things must change.”

However, the practice is based on a decades-old law that calls on asylum seekers and refugees to help pay for the cost of processing their applications and providing social assistance. According to the Swiss state secretariat for migration (SEM), the rule affected just 112 out of 45,000 refugees last year.

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Swiss authorities help refugees from Syrian off a train.

Refugees who win the right to stay in Switzerland also have to pay 10-percent of salary for up to 10 years until a total of 15,000 Swiss francs (13,721 Euro) are reimbursed for the cost of processing the case.

In Denmark, similar proposed legislation has met with harsh condemnation from several organisations, including the UN high commission for refugees. The initial bill calls for refugees to use assets over 10,000 Danish krona (1,340 Euro) to help pay for their stay.

As in Switzerland, Jewelry and other personal artifacts will not be taken, although gold bullion still could. Danish government spokesman Marcus Knuth told reporters that the refugee would have final say if a dispute over the item comes up.

One Danish MP, Jens Rohde, was so outraged by the proposal that he quit the centre-right ruling party in protest.

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