Swiss authorities are confiscating valuable possessions from migrants and taxing them 10 per cent of any money they earn to pay for their upkeep.
As the migrant crisis sweeps across Europe, Switzerland has introduced the requirement that migrants must hand over any possessions worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs if they wish to claim asylum.
The Daily Mail reports one Syrian asylum seeker who showed a local TV station a receipt he had been given after handing over cash to immigration authorities.
It also showed an information sheet which reads: “If you have property worth more than 1,000 Swiss francs when you arrive at a reception centre you are required to give up these financial assets in return for a receipt.”
The Swiss migration authority says asylum seekers and refugees must contribute where possible to the cost of processing their applications and providing social care.
“If someone leaves voluntarily within seven months this person can get the money back and take it with them. Otherwise the money covers costs they generate,” a spokeswoman said.
Those who do win the right to stay are then taxed 10 per cent of any money they earn for up to 10 years or until they repay 15,000 francs in administrative costs.
Under the proposals, migrants would be able to “keep assets which are necessary to maintain a modest standard of living, e.g. watches and mobile phones. Furthermore, assets which have a certain personal, sentimental value to a foreigner will not, as a main rule, be seized unless they have [considerable] value.”
Danish integration minister Inger Stoejberg took to Facebook to defend the policy, writing: “I can see that some foreign media are pouring scorn over (the fact) that we in the future may withdraw asylum seekers’ valuables and demand that they should pay for their stay in asylum centres themselves.
“There is no reason to criticise, since it is already the case that if you as a Dane have valuables for more than 10,000 kroner ($1,450, 1,340 euros) it may be required that this is sold before you can receive unemployment benefits.”
Denmark proposed the new measures as Sweden tightened its borders, leading to fears thousands of refugees would choose the country as their final place of residence. Hundreds of thousands passed through Denmark last year, but most were simply on their way to Sweden.