Statistics on victims of trafficking 2022

Woman standing in front of a blind and looking outside

On October 18, the European Day against Trafficking in Human Beings, Plateforme Traite presented the latest figures on victims of human trafficking on a national level. The statistics of Plateforme Traite refer to persons whom the four specialized agencies have directly counseled and identified as victims of human trafficking.

2022: 177 victims of human trafficking newly identified

In the course of 2022, 324 persons turned to the four specialized agencies seeking help or were referred to them by partner organizations or authorities because there was a suspicion of human trafficking. Of these individuals, 177 were identified as victims of human trafficking. The remaining cases were victims of other forms of violence and abuse or could not be conclusively clarified.

«Never before have so many suspected victims of human trafficking turned to Plateforme Traite’s specialized victim counseling services.»

Anna Schmid, coordinator of Plateforme Traite

In 2022, a total of 450 victims of human trafficking were accompanied and counseled by the counseling centers1.

A large proportion of trafficked persons are women, but the number of men identified as victims of trafficking is steadily increasing (2019: 9%, 2020: 14%, 2021: 19%, 2022: 23%).

It is difficult to create a typical profile of a person who has been trafficked. The forms of exploitation and coercive situations experienced by victims, as well as their origins and life trajectories, vary widely. In total, the victims came from 60 different countries. The most common countries of origin of the newly identified victims were Hungary, Brazil, Colombia and Romania. 36% of victims were from African countries, 32% from European countries, 16% from Latin American countries, and 16% from Asian countries.

Identification and access to protection for victims of trafficking for labor exploitation remains a major challenge

Specialized agencies are increasingly identifying victims of trafficking for labor exploitation: of all newly identified victims, 33% in 2021 and 44% in 2022. These figures also include victims forced into illegal acts such as theft or drug smuggling. Labor exploitation occurred primarily in private households, food service, and construction.

The increase in the number of detected cases of trafficking for labor exploitation is also the result of the awareness-raising work carried out by Plateforme Traite’s specialized units among the various actors such as trade unions, labor inspectors, etc. Nevertheless, further awareness-raising measures are definitely needed: This is because trafficking in human beings for labor exploitation is rarely judicially sentenced and it is difficult for victims to have access to a secure residence permit and to protection and rights that the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings actually grants them.

How Switzerland implements this convention was examined this summer by the Council of Europe Group of Experts (GRETA)2. The Plateforme Traite produced a shadow report reflecting the experiences of victim protection organizations and outlining the biggest problems in victim protection for trafficked persons.

«To effectively combat human trafficking, victims need to be recognized as such. They also need access to specialized accompaniment, adequate and safe housing, and a secure residence permit. This must be provided throughout Switzerland.»

Mimoza Kokollari, education and policy referee at ASTRÉE and co-author of the Plateforme Traite shadow report.

«The National Action Plan against Human Trafficking, adopted in 2022, includes several measures to combat human trafficking for labor exploitation. In order for these to be implemented, it is imperative that sufficient resources are made available.»

Anna Schmid, coordinator of Plateforme Traite

1 New victims plus victims from previous years who still need care.

2 Recommendations to Switzerland will be adopted by the Council of Europe in spring 2024.