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Appeals Court Established for Nazi Repression Victims - 2002-03-16

The International Organization for Migration, or IOM, has set up an appeals body for victims of Nazi repression who are dissatisfied with the amount of compensation they have received for their suffering. The claims have been made to the so-called German Forced Labor Compensation Program, which is administered by the Geneva-based IOM.

The International Organization for Migration is responsible for disbursing about $270 million to compensate former slave laborers and other victims of the Nazi regime.

The program, which is funded by the German government, handles claims mainly from Eastern Europeans who were deported to Nazi Germany or to a German-occupied country as forced laborers.

IOM information officer Marie-Agnes Heine says the agency has received more than 300,000 completed claims for slave and forced labor and for personal injury. She said this is four times the initial estimate.

"All slave and forced labor claimants and personal injury claimants under GFLCP (German Forced Labor Compensation Program), who either disagree with the decision of that claim or the amount awarded, have a right to appeal to this body. An appeal must be sent to IOM within six months after the people have received their decision on that claim," she said.

The IOM expects it will have made payments to roughly one-quarter of the eligible claimants by next month. Ms. Heine said that so far, only 11 people have appealed their awards.

"We have appeals from the Internat Italiani Militari who, as we have informed you before, are not eligible under the German Foundation Act. But we have also received appeals from claimants who are not satisfied with their classification of claim who have been classified as forced laborers in agriculture, not in industry, for example," Ms. Heine says.

Ms. Heine noted that people classified as forced laborers in agriculture receive less than half the amount of money awarded those who were forced to work in industry.

The three members of the appeals body include eminent jurists from Finland, Slovenia and Poland. Ms. Heine has said they will work independently, and will not be subject to outside instruction.