Establishment of the Swiss Platform against Human Trafficking
The Counseling Centers for Victims of Human Trafficking have noted that, despite major progress in the fight against human trafficking in Switzerland, the victims still have too little access to their rights and do not receive the support and victim protection they are entitled to. Victims’ rights are only partially enforced, despite the fact that Switzerland has undertaken to enforce them by signing the European Convention against Human Trafficking. This was also criticized by the control mechanism of the convention, the GRETA group of experts.
It can be assumed that the current number of identified victims of human trafficking in Switzerland is only the tip of the iceberg: Only a small fraction of the victims are identified, and of these, again a fraction receive protection and support appropriate to their needs. It is a matter of luck or chance whether a victim can claim her victim rights or not.
This is due to a lack of awareness among the authorities and the general public, as well as a lack of financial resources to provide adequate support to victims and to effectively combat trafficking in human beings. Furthermore, various gaps in victim protection currently make a victim-centred and human rights-based commitment against human trafficking more difficult, For instance: victims in asylum procedures lack access to protection and justice, and victims who have been exploited abroad do not receive the protection they need. In addition, the number of convictions for human trafficking is alarmingly low compared to the number of victims. This indicates that effective prosecution and adequate sentences are far from being achieved.
For these reasons, the four NGOs Astrée, FIZ Acvocacy and Suppor for Migrant Women and Victims of Trafficking, Antenna MayDay Ticino, ASTRÉE and CSP Genève have decided to create a platform to ensure continuous cooperation and an in-depth exchange of information, thus becoming a stronger voice for the rights of victims of human trafficking. All four NGOs are specialized in the protection of victims of human trafficking and follow a human rights-based approach in their work. The exchange of information, practices and experiences between the member organizations will help to identify problems and gaps in victim protection. This cooperation at national level will strengthen the voice of organizations that take a victim-centered and human rights-based approach to trafficking. The joint political work will focus on reducing gaps in victim protection. In addition, the platform aims to raise awareness among authorities, experts and the general public of the rights of victims of human trafficking and their situation.
The Swiss Platform against Human Trafficking will be officially founded in autumn 2020. It makes the following demands on Swiss policy:
- In every case and in all cantons, it must be ensured that specialized victim protection organizations are involved at the earliest possible stage in the identification, counseling and support of presumed victims of human trafficking and that their services are financed.
- Victims who have been exploited abroad and have fled to Switzerland must be given access to support services and protection. This applies in particular to victims who are in the process of being granted asylum. Furthermore, Dublin deportations must not be carried out if there is a suspicion of human trafficking.
- More resources are needed to raise awareness among institutions and the public about human trafficking for the purpose of labor exploitation. Criminal law needs to be amended to ensure that this crime is effectively punished.