Last Updated: Friday, 27 November 2015, 12:04 GMT

U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Switzerland

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 14 June 2004
Cite as United States Department of State, U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Switzerland, 14 June 2004, available at: [accessed 29 November 2015]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Switzerland (Tier 2)

Switzerland is primarily a destination country, and secondarily a transit country, for increasing numbers of women trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, Thailand, Africa, and South America.

The Government of Switzerland does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Switzerland has moved from Tier 1 to Tier 2 due to a lack of appreciable progress in eliminating severe forms of trafficking during the reporting period and a failure to consistently provide the range of protections for trafficking victims available under Swiss law. The federal government through regular interagency policy meetings is working to strengthen its laws against trafficking and sensitize cantonal authorities to the importance of staying deportation proceedings, but progress has been slow. Some local enforcement authorities still treated some trafficking victims as illegal immigrants, rapidly deporting them rather than providing or facilitating assistance. The government should improve victim identification procedures, increase enforcement efforts, and adopt screening procedures to prevent repeated abuse of "artistic" visas for trafficking purposes.


The Swiss penal code has two articles specifically prohibiting trafficking in persons with sufficiently severe penalties, both of which focus on sexual exploitation and prostitution. The Swiss Government has drafted a revision to the penal code to explicitly prohibit forced labor, but the legislation has not been submitted to parliament. Currently, other legal provisions of the penal code or the immigration and naturalization law cover it implicitly. The most recent enforcement statistics, from 2002, indicate that authorities made 11 convictions for human trafficking and forced prostitution, down from 17 in 2001. Four of those convicted received prison sentences from five to 10 years, and seven received suspended sentences of less than a year. Within the Federal Office of Police (BAP), the Coordination Unit against the Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (KSMM) coordinates and monitors all Swiss anti-trafficking efforts. The office began operations in early 2003 and currently has three full-time employees. The BAP also established two new anti-trafficking sub-sections, one with the international cooperation and investigation division and the other tied to the domestic intelligence division. Swiss authorities are active in international law enforcement activities and took the lead in coordinating 12 international trafficking investigations. The government stationed a law enforcement attaché in Thailand in early 2003 to coordinate criminal investigations, including trafficking investigations, and act as a liaison between Swiss and Thai authorities. In total, Switzerland responded to 575 international inquiries relating to trafficking, up from 474 in 2002.


In 2003, the KSMM held two interdisciplinary training seminars for cantonal police officers and social workers on how to recognize and investigate instances of human trafficking. Despite a range of protections, some potential victims of trafficking were summarily deported to their country of origin as illegal immigrants. The federal police and immigration authorities are working with cantonal authorities to encourage them to take a more tolerant approach toward delaying deportation to allow for victim counseling and an increased likelihood that victims may testify against traffickers. NGOs and Swiss authorities in Zurich drafted a "code of cooperation" to improve the protection and security of victims. Pending the city government's approval, this code will regulate the procedures for identifying and referring victims for assistance. Efforts to strengthen cooperation between NGOs and Swiss authorities are also underway in other cities, such as Bern, Basel, and Lucerne. Under the Swiss Victim's Assistance Law, identified victims may seek help from centers providing shelter, counseling, legal assistance, and medical aid. The most recent statistics, from 2002, indicate that these centers assisted 68 victims. The law also safeguards the identities of witnesses in criminal proceedings; although, few victims are willing to testify because they fear retaliation or deportation. Federal and cantonal governments continued to provide funding to NGOs and women's shelters, and authorities may grant temporary residency permits on a case-by-case basis to victims willing to testify in court. The government is considering a new legal framework to provide an explicit right to temporary residence for trafficking victims, but such legislation is unlikely to become effective before 2006.


The Government of Switzerland funded several anti-trafficking information and education campaigns in Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union, Asia, and South America, targeting potential trafficking victims. In 2003, the government co-financed an anti-trafficking radio program in Bosnia, a trafficking awareness campaign in Colombia, a mobile theater project in Ukraine, and an information campaign in Sri Lanka warning against illegal immigration. The government also continued to partially fund the Women's Information Center, a victim's assistance NGO, that has established an international network of contacts for victim repatriation and distributes trafficking information in origin countries. Switzerland established a national action plan to combat human trafficking, and the Swiss Federal Council has tasked each federal department to take steps to implement the plan. In collaboration with the Interior Ministry, a Swiss NGO trained Swiss consular officials to educate visa applicants in their home countries about the dangers of trafficking. The Swiss embassy in Moscow has tightened visa regulations and, together with an NGO, has implemented awareness raising seminars for its staff. This trafficking-awareness raising program is being replicated at Swiss embassies in Kiev and Bogotá.

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