Last Updated: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 13:11 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Switzerland

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 16 June 2009
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Switzerland, 16 June 2009, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4a42148d28.html [accessed 20 April 2014]
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 1)

Switzerland is primarily a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. One NGO reported that roughly 50 percent of the trafficking victims counseled in Switzerland came from Eastern Europe; 27 percent were from Latin America; 14 percent were from Asia; and the remaining nine percent came from Africa. Primary countries of origin during the reporting period were Romania, Hungary, Poland, Bulgaria, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Ukraine, Moldova, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Thailand, Cambodia, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Swiss federal police assess that the total number of potential trafficking victims residing in Switzerland is between 1,500 and 3,000. There is reportedly forced labor in the domestic service sector. Trafficking of ethnic Roma minors, who reportedly are brought from other European countries to various Swiss cities to beg and commit petty theft, is a rising concern of Swiss authorities.

The Government of Switzerland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. While only 16 percent of trafficking offenders convicted during the reporting period served time in jail and authorities initiated no labor trafficking prosecutions, the number of sex trafficking convictions increased.

Recommendations for Switzerland: Increase the number of convicted traffickers serving time in prison; establish formal procedures to guide officials nationwide in proactively identifying victims among vulnerable groups, such as women in prostitution, street children, or undocumented migrant worker; establish formal procedures to guide officials nationwide in referring potential victims to service providers; provide adequate funding for trafficking victim service providers; consider a nationwide awareness campaign that addresses labor and sex trafficking and targets potential victims, the general public, as well as potential clients of the sex trade and beneficiaries of forced labor.

Prosecution

The Government of Switzerland's anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts yielded an increased numbers of sex trafficking convictions during the reporting period, though very few convicted trafficking offenders served jail time, and there were no labor trafficking prosecutions. Switzerland prohibits trafficking for both sexual and labor exploitation under the new Article 182 of the Swiss penal code, which prescribes penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment and are commensurate with penalties prescribed for other grave crimes. To improve the process for gathering statistics on trafficking prosecutions, Switzerland's 26 cantons embarked on a data harmonization process that has resulted in a change of timing for the release of comprehensive law enforcement statistics. As a result, the latest available law enforcement statistics for this Report were the comprehensive data from 2007. Authorities reported 20 prosecutions under the trafficking statute in 2007, compared to 20 prosecutions under the trafficking statute in 2006. Swiss courts handed down convictions of 22 people under article 182 and three for sex trafficking under a separate forced prostitution statute in 2007, compared with five under the trafficking statute and 11 for sex trafficking under the forced prostitution statute in 2006. Authorities reported no labor trafficking prosecutions or convictions in 2007. Of those convicted and receiving sentences that were not subsequently suspended, the average sentence in 2007 was two years' imprisonment – the same average sentence seen in 2006. The maximum jail sentence that was not suspended in 2007 was four years, compared to a maximum of 28 months' imprisonment in 2006. The government reported that only 16 percent (four of the 25) convicted trafficking offenders in 2007 served time in jail. The government trained 25 Swiss prosecutors and judges in November on sensitization to trafficking issues, such as recognizing trafficking crimes and appropriate victim protection.

Protection

The government demonstrated sustained victim protection efforts during the reporting period. The Swiss federal and cantonal governments have established some systems for human trafficking identification. For example, the Swiss Foreign Office has procedures for screening visa candidates who seek to travel to Switzerland to work as cabaret dancers, a group considered to be particularly vulnerable to trafficking. The Federal Police have a trafficking victim-screening checklist that is distributed to all federal and cantonal police officials and is mandatory for use in all cantonal immigration offices. Thirteen out of Switzerland's 26 cantons have their own formal procedures for victim identification and referral. NGOs suggested that centrally-determined standards for how individual cantons are to provide assistance to victims would be useful. Trafficking victims had access to free and immediate medical, psychological, and legal assistance in coordination with government-and NGO-funded victim assistance centers or battered women's shelters. Funding levels for the reporting period were not available, but some NGOs indicated government funding for victim assistance was inadequate. Special protective measures were available for juvenile trafficking victims. There were no specialized facilities for male victims of trafficking, although authorities did not identify any male victims in 2007. In January 2009, Switzerland amended its victim assistance law to include incentives for victim assistance centers to tailor programs for trafficking victims. The government reported assisting 128 trafficking victims in 2007. There were no reports that victims were penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of their being trafficked. Swiss authorities encouraged victims to participate in the prosecution of trafficking offenders and granted foreign victims both temporary and long-term legal alternatives to removal to countries where they faced hardship or retribution. The government started a pilot program in April 2008 to assist victims with repatriation to their home countries.

Prevention

The government demonstrated some trafficking prevention efforts during the reporting period. In conjunction with the European Soccer Cup, which Switzerland hosted jointly with Austria in June 2008, the government provided $96,000 to NGOs to implement an anti-trafficking public awareness campaign. The campaign targeted potential clients of Switzerland's sex trade through TV and Internet spots and posters but ran only from March to September. The government provided funding for a hotline for Russian-speaking trafficking victims, though it did not provide funding for the main victim assistance hotline, which was run by an NGO on private donations. The Swiss Ministry of Foreign Affairs hosted a November 2008 conference on the linkages among prostitution, migration, and human trafficking. The Swiss government funded trafficking prevention and protection programs in various countries and regions at an annual level of approximately $5.4 million. The Swiss federal police added a form to its website where suspected incidents of child sex tourism could be reported. Switzerland's penal code provides for extraterritorial application of Switzerland's child sexual abuse laws, though there were no reported prosecutions or convictions of Swiss child sex tourists under this law. The government provided specific anti-trafficking training modules for all Swiss peacekeeping troops.

Search Refworld

Countries