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Better protection of victims of human trafficking in the asylum system

More and more victims of human trafficking come to Switzerland as refugees and end up in the asylum system. Their situation is alarming because the protection of victims whose asylum proceedings are pending is very limited. They do not enjoy the same rights as victims who are subject to the foreign nationals’ legislation. Many victims are in urgent need of psychosocial support, appropriate care and safe accommodation, which are rarely accessible due to the lack of specialised structures and funding specifically for the reception and care of persons who have been trafficked.

Recommendations of the Plateforme Traite:

  1. Improving the identification of victims of human trafficking in asylum procedures
    The identification of victims of human trafficking during ongoing asylum proceedings must be improved. At the first suspicion of trafficking, the authority in charge of the asylum procedure must refer the presumed victims to specialised organisations in order to determine their status as victims and organise their further treatment.

  2. Switzerland should make use of the sovereignty clause of the Dublin Regulation
    For victims of human trafficking, Switzerland should make use of the sovereignty clause of the Dublin Regulation (Article 17 Dublin III), i.e. Switzerland should refrain from returning the victim to another Dublin state and process and examine the asylum application itself. This should be done in particular where a transfer is detrimental to the victim (because the victim might be at risk in the country of transfer or because of the victim’s physical or psychological situation).

  3. Equal treatment of victims of human trafficking under asylum law and foreign nationals’ legislation
    Asylum applicants whose asylum proceedings in Switzerland are pending are entitled to the rights guaranteed by the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings. As soon as the first suspicion of trafficking arises, they should have access to specific care measures: first of all the possibility to apply for an adequate recovery and reflection period (currently the victim in an asylum procedure often receives the minimum 30-day period, with no real possibility to apply for an extension), access to adequate and secure accommodation, specialised counselling for persons that have been trafficked, translation and interpretation services, access to medical and psychological care in relation to the trauma they have suffered.

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