U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - Switzerland

Switzerland (Tier 1)

Switzerland is a destination and, to a lesser extent, a transit country for women trafficked from Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Slovakia, Moldova, Brazil, Dominican Republic, Thailand, Cambodia, and countries in Africa for the purpose of sexual exploitation. The government estimates the total number of potential victims currently in Switzerland is 1,500 to 2,000. Limited cases of domestic servitude and forced labor in the agricultural, construction, and tourism industries were also reported.

The Government of Switzerland fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. In December 2005, Parliament passed a new immigration law that formalizes and improves the process of granting potential trafficking victims a stay of deportation and provides for residency status or the assisted return of victims and witnesses to their countries of origin.

Parliament unanimously adopted a more comprehensive definition of human trafficking that includes forced labor. Switzerland continued to demonstrate great commitment to combat human trafficking by generously funding protection and prevention efforts in source countries. Although the government's international efforts are commendable, more should be done to fight trafficking domestically. The government should ensure that more convicted traffickers serve time in prison. The government should also enact a domestic demand-reduction public awareness campaign. The national government should continue to work with cantonal authorities to establish a national trafficking statistics gathering system.


The Government of Switzerland continued to make progress in its law enforcement efforts during the reporting period. National statistics on the total number of trafficking investigations were unavailable at the time of this report, but police investigated at least 30 trafficking cases in 2005. Authorities conducted at least 16 prosecutions in 2005. Courts convicted at least 22 traffickers in 2005, an increase from 12 in 2004. Of the 22 traffickers convicted in 2005, 16 received suspended sentences while six traffickers received sentences ranging from five to 16 months. The Swiss Government cooperated with other governments in the investigation and prosecution of numerous trafficking cases. During the reporting period, the national government expanded its specialized anti-trafficking training program for police officers and instructed cantonal migration offices to improve victim assistance statistics.


Switzerland continued to improve victim protection efforts. The government identified at least 97 victims in 2005. Trafficking victims, regardless of their immigration status, are entitled to free and immediate medical care as well as psychological, social, and legal assistance. Local victim assistance centers provided victims with a minimum of 14 days of emergency lodging and 14 days of living allowance. In 2004, 84 trafficking victims received help from victim assistance centers. At least three cantons provided funding to a victim assistance anti-trafficking NGO in 2005. Several cities have established victim referral processes between judicial, police, and immigration authorities and NGOs. In 2005, 30 trafficking victims were granted 30-day temporary stays of deportation for contemplation and recovery. An additional 18 victims were granted short-term residency permits for the duration of the legal proceeding against their traffickers. Eight victims were given long-term residency permits subject to annual review for reasons of personal hardship.


The Government of Switzerland continued its commendable public awareness programs in source countries, but domestic prevention efforts remained limited. In 2005, the government provided more than $1 million for prevention and protection projects to international organizations and multiple NGOs working abroad; over two dozen prevention campaigns were funded in Eastern and Southeastern Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. The Department of Foreign Affairs also worked to raise trafficking awareness among business people of multinational companies based in Switzerland. Swiss embassies and consulates abroad increased their scrutiny of applicants for work visas as nightclub performers; officials ensured that applicants received valid work contracts, were aware of their future working conditions, and were given NGO contact information if they later required assistance. The government did not conduct a domestic public awareness campaign in 2005.


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