In the period between 1942 and 1981, a large number of women (including many minors) were made subject to «administrative detention» and sent to Hindelbank Prison. Most of these women were detained under the cantonal public law or federal civil law at the time, without ever having committed a crime. Illegitimate pregnancy (in minors), for example, was a common reason for administrative detention. Administrative detention by various authorities has two distinctive features: firstly, it was not possible to request a court hearing; and secondly, the facilities were not suitable for the intended «education measures». At Hindelbank, the women subject to administrative detention were actually not separated from offenders.
Re-examination and current debate
The FCWI, which had already examined the situation of women in prison in Switzerland in 1977/78, dealt with the issue. As an independent extra-parliamentary commission, it acted as a mediator in dealings with the authorities and the persons concerned, after the latter contacted the Commission regarding their concerns for the first time in 2007/2008.
On 10 September 2010, an event was held in Hindelbank Prison at which the federal government and the cantons offered a public apology to the women who had been subjected to administrative detention for the injustice they suffered. A transcript of the speech given by Federal Councillor Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf, is available in German on this webpage: www.ejpd.admin.ch
Further information is available on the website of the persons who suffered administrative detention, which includes all articles on this topic published to date: www.administrativ-versorgte.ch