Swiss city of Basel offers homeless people one way-tickets to other countries

Swiss city of Basel offers homeless people one way-tickets to other countries
Most Swiss cantons ban begging. Photo by Michal Cizek / AFP
The northern city is giving beggars a travel voucher to a European destination, provided they agree not to return to Switzerland.

Basel’s migration service offers a Rail Check, as well as a donation of 20 francs, to any beggar willing to leave the country, Swiss media reported.

This travel voucher covers a trip to any European destination by train.

For those who live too far to go by train, for instance Romania, where many beggars come from, authorities purchase an airline ticket for about 60 francs — the price for one-way flight from Basel to Bucharest.

But there is one condition attached to this free travel: “beneficiaries must agree in writing not to return to Switzerland. If they are found here again, they risk expulsion from our country”, said Toprak Yergu, a spokesperson for Basel’s Department of Justice.

Basel’s solution seems more innovative than the one practiced by Geneva authorities, who fined a beggar 500 francs for breaking the canton’s anti-begging law, and then detaining her when she couldn’t pay.

While this incident dates back to 2014, it made news again in January 2021, when the European Court of Human Rights found the penalties against the woman to be out of proportion.

The court ruled that the Romanian woman had “the right, which is inherent in human dignity, to express her distress and try to meet her needs by begging.

Geneva had violated article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights, which guarantees the protection of private and family life, the court said, ordering the canton to pay the woman 922 euros in moral damages. 

READ MORE: Switzerland condemned by rights court over fine for beggar

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