The committee searched the archives for the period between December 1940 and the end of the war, the time during which the Swiss border was tightly controlled by the army. Only military court records were considered because the armed forces were responsible for any trials.

No further research will take place at the archives, but the committee will continue to consider new cases brought to its attention.

It has suggested the cantons search their own archives for court decisions against refugee helpers. This would mostly concern the time before the borders were shut, as local tribunals were responsible for sentencing then.

The committee will accept submissions until December 31, 2008. However, later requests that can be justified will also be considered until the end of 2011.

Although Switzerland took in more than 300,000 refugees from the countries under the control of the Nazi regime, it turned away an estimated 20,000 people, mostly Jews.

Neutral status

To maintain its neutral status, Switzerland set up strict controls along its borders to prevent an influx of refugees. But many people living along the Swiss border braved the risk of prosecution to smuggle people into the country.

Those caught helping refugees into Switzerland were punished with a fine or even a prison sentence.

The rehabilitation law, which makes no provision for any form of compensation, is largely symbolic. It was approved by parliament in June 2003.