The Government of Switzerland does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so. The government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared with the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Switzerland remained on Tier 2. These efforts included opening a new specialized counseling service for trafficking victims and launching an awareness campaign across seven cantons, in collaboration with civil society. Government-funded NGOs provided services to significantly more victims, a canton established a joint inspection team between labor inspectors and police, and a government-funded NGO established a trafficking hotline for police referrals to victim assistance. However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas. Lenient sentencing, resulting in 63 percent of traffickers receiving fully suspended sentences or sentences of less than one year imprisonment, undercut efforts to hold traffickers accountable, weakened deterrence, created potential security and safety concerns for victims, and was not equal to the seriousness of the crime. Law enforcement efforts on labor trafficking remained low, and the government continued to lack comprehensive and sufficiently disaggregated data on trafficking. The government continued to lack consistent and uniform victim identification and access to adequate care across the country, as well as legal safeguards to specifically protect trafficking victims against potential prosecution for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit. The government did not report awarding compensation or restitution to any victims during the reporting period.
Vigorously investigate and prosecute suspected labor and sex traffickers and sentence convicted traffickers to adequate penalties, which should involve serving significant prison terms.
Increase victim identification and training for all front-line officials, with increased focus on identifying labor trafficking.
Increase law enforcement efforts for labor trafficking and provide sufficient resources, personnel, and training.
Coordinate and centralize the collection of trafficking data across the government, including continuing to make progress on sufficiently disaggregating data between trafficking and other forms of exploitation, as well as between sex and labor trafficking.
Provide sufficient personnel and funding to specialized anti-trafficking police units and the Specialist Unit Against the Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (FSMM) to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts.
Adopt a national anti-trafficking action plan (NAP) to effectively and efficiently coordinate national efforts across all cantons.
Increase awareness of and trafficking survivor access to damages and compensation and increase prosecutor’s efforts to systematically request restitution for survivors during criminal trials.
Expand authorities for labor inspectors to allow for the identification of trafficking victims.
Increase efforts to pursue financial crime investigations in tandem with human trafficking cases.
Increase access to specialized services, especially for labor trafficking victims, asylum-seekers, male, child, and transgender victims.
Amend the anti-trafficking provision of the criminal code to include force, fraud, or coercion as an essential element of the crime in accordance with international law and ensure the criminal code clearly defines labor exploitation.
Ensure labor trafficking is investigated and prosecuted as a trafficking crime and not pursued as an administrative labor code violation.
Enact a legal provision, in addition to the existing non-punishment legal provision, to specifically protect trafficking victims from prosecution for unlawful acts traffickers compelled them to commit.
Strengthen international law enforcement cooperation to prevent and investigate child sex tourism.
Appoint a national rapporteur to provide independent review of government anti-trafficking efforts.
Increase worker protections by codifying in law the elimination of recruitment or placement fees that could potentially be charged to workers by Swiss labor recruiters and ensure employers pay any recruitment fees.
Increase survivor engagement, including by establishing accessible mechanisms for receiving and providing compensation for survivor input when forming policies, programs, and trainings.
Improve law enforcement coordination between cantons, specifically to combat organized human trafficking networks.
Increase cooperation with civil society regarding victim identification assistance, especially for asylum hearings for potential victims.
The government maintained law enforcement efforts. Article 182 of the penal code criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to life imprisonment and/or a fine; the penalties included prison sentences of no less than one year for crimes involving a child victim and those where the trafficker acted for commercial gain. These penalties were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as kidnapping. Inconsistent with the definition of trafficking under international law, Article 182 does not include a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion as an essential element of the crime. NGOs stated the lack of an explicit legal definition for labor exploitation under Article 182 complicated labor trafficking investigations and limited data collection necessary for prevention efforts. In March 2022, the lower chamber of parliament approved a motion to draft a law making labor trafficking a federal offence.
In 2021, cantonal authorities reported investigating 46 cases with 57 suspects under Article 182, compared with 55 cases with 61 suspects in 2020 and 58 cases with 59 suspects in 2019. While the government reported investigations were largely unimpeded by the pandemic in 2021, non-urgent questioning, some court hearings, and other procedural actions were postponed. In 2021, the government recorded 31 offenses related to sex trafficking and 40 for labor trafficking; however, the number of offenses did not directly correlate to the number of suspects or cases under investigation and could be duplicative. In Switzerland, convictions are recorded in the year the prosecution was initiated and only recorded when all appeals are finalized, which can cause prior year prosecution and conviction statistics to increase slightly as cases are finalized. Furthermore, the government did not collect national statistics on the total number of prosecutions initiated in a given year under Article 182, necessitating an assessment of only successful prosecutions that resulted in conviction. Based on unfinalized data, in 2020, the most recent year available, cantonal authorities and courts reported successfully prosecuting and convicting at least eight traffickers under Article 182. This was similar to nine in 2019 but an increase compared with four in 2018 and six in 2017; however, compared with convictions from 2012 to 2016, statistics show an overall long-term downward trend (11 in 2016, 21 in 2015, 15 in 2014, 13 in 2013, and 13 in 2012). The government did not report whether any prosecutions or convictions involved labor trafficking as it did not disaggregate data between sex and labor trafficking under Article 182, but in 2020, it reported that at least five of eight convictions were for sex trafficking. Historically, prosecutions and convictions for labor trafficking were low, while NGOs continued to assert many labor trafficking cases were instead pursued as administrative labor violations, resulting in lesser consequences and decreased deterrence. Of the eight convictions in 2020, courts issued fully suspended prison sentences or assigned a sentence of less than one year’s imprisonment to five traffickers (62.5 percent). Courts sentenced three traffickers (37.5 percent) to significant prison terms of one year or longer, with the longest sentence being 10 years and 6 months’ imprisonment. The court’s lenient sentencing practices weakened deterrence, potentially undercut efforts of police and prosecutors, and created security and safety concerns, particularly for victims who cooperated with investigations and prosecutions. NGOs urged the government to enact a minimum sentence for all convicted traffickers—not just trafficking crimes involving children—to address issues with lenient sentencing. As a comparison, in 2020, of the 113 convicted rapists, 63 (56 percent) were sentenced to significant prison sentences of one year or longer in prison. In 2020, court proceedings were postponed while courts closed due to the pandemic. Federal courts and the prosecutor’s office both closed for one month and cantonal courts may have been closed longer as directives varied by canton; however, most courts adapted by utilizing virtual platforms to continue processing cases. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in human trafficking crimes. Authorities continued to report the prevalence of “lover boy” traffickers, which was a method of trafficking that involved young male traffickers who coerce girls and women into sex trafficking, often through a sham romantic relationship. This method of trafficking affects both Swiss nationals and foreign nationals, and while authorities reported the initiation of at least one investigation, NGOs noted that “lover boy” traffickers continued to flout trafficking laws.
As a federal system, jurisdiction for investigations and criminal prosecutions in Switzerland rested with the 26 cantons, except for cases involving organized criminal networks, which fell under federal police (FedPol) jurisdiction. Consequently procedures, staffing, and funding varied from canton to canton; officials noted that some of the smaller cantons did not have sufficient resources to gather evidence to prove trafficking crimes. At least six of 26 cantons had their own specialized anti-trafficking police units, but NGOs raised concerns that these units lacked sufficient funding and personnel, given the government’s competing priorities with other crimes. The government had specialized prosecutors, with trauma-informed training, who usually handled human trafficking cases; however, NGOs recommended increased trauma-informed training for prosecutors. Civil society continued to report the government’s predominant focus on sex trafficking hindered the identification of labor trafficking cases and their prosecution. NGOs also reported that insufficient coordination between cantons hindered law enforcement efforts against organized human trafficking networks, with frequent duplication of efforts. The government and government-funded NGOs provided trafficking-related training to law enforcement, immigration officials working with asylum-seekers, border guards, prosecutors, labor inspectors, hospital staff, and NGO staff in 2021. However, civil society raised concerns regarding the continued lack of institutionalized training for prosecutors at the national level and the postponement of a training curriculum for immigration officials in the asylum sector. Law enforcement reported assisting in 29 new and ongoing international trafficking cases in 2021, compared with 24 in 2020. Switzerland continued to maintain a network of at least 10 police attachés posted abroad, who provided support to government prosecution authorities in combating trans-border crime, and police cooperation agreements with Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Czech Republic, France, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Macedonia, Nigeria, Serbia, and Slovenia.
The government increased victim protection efforts. Pandemic-related restrictions and business closures, along with the increased use of private locations and the internet as venues for exploitation, exacerbated vulnerabilities for sex trafficking victims and decreased victim visibility to authorities. NGOs reported that law enforcement had a decreased capacity to identify trafficking victims because the pandemic necessitated police prioritize the enforcement of pandemic-related health restrictions. In 2021, cantonal authorities identified 62 victims under article 182, an increase compared with 53 in 2020 but still less than 83 in 2019 and 64 in 2018. The government did not report the number of labor trafficking victims it identified, as it did not adequately disaggregate data. Of the 62 trafficking victims identified by the government in 2021, eight were children, and four were Swiss. Unlike prior years, the government did not report identifying any trafficking victims within the asylum system in 2021. The federal government had a national victim identification mechanism and standardized questions, as well as a regional referral mechanism, though implementation was inconsistent and varied canton by canton. NGOs continued to express concern that officials prioritized the identification of sex trafficking victims over labor trafficking, although one NGO indicated that the majority of the victims it identified and assisted were labor trafficking victims. Law enforcement authorities acknowledged this issue and noted that additional resources and specialization across all cantons would allow law enforcement to better address labor trafficking within the country. The canton of Bern passed a specific law on labor trafficking and established a joint inspection team between labor inspectors and police, and as a result, authorities reported the increased identification of labor trafficking victims in 2021.
Victim care varied across the cantons, and civil society continued to criticize the absence of a national victim protection program to ensure uniformity in victim assistance across the country, asserting this could lead to re-traumatization for victims. Cantonal authorities maintained jurisdiction on providing protection for victims, and trafficking victims were entitled to utilizing free and immediate assistance centers that varied from canton to canton. In 2021, the government granted 518,599 Swiss francs ($567,390) to nine NGOs for victim assistance, which included some public awareness activities as well; an increase compared with 401,694 Swiss francs ($439,490) granted in 2020. Civil society continued to express concern that funding was insufficient and short-term funding resulted in ineffective program implementation. Government-funded NGOs provided assistance to 458 potential trafficking victims in 2021, including at least 324 potential sex trafficking victims, 81 potential labor trafficking victims, and seven children. This was a significant increase compared with 184 in 2020 and 169 in 2019. NGOs reported that in 2021, assisted victims were most often from Hungary, Brazil, Romania, and Nigeria; most frequently assisted in Zurich or Bern; and most often referred by civil society, medical staff, or police. Additionally, the government provided trafficking-specific counseling for 254 potential trafficking victims in 2020, the most recent year data was available; an increase compared with 193 in 2019 and 186 in 2018. Eighteen of 26 cantons had roundtables, which functioned as victim referral mechanisms; roundtables included police, prosecutors, and NGOs. NGOs highlighted that eight cantons remained without roundtables for victim identification and referral. NGOs noted improved victim referral during the reporting period, which was attributed to increased government-funded training and roundtable events. Victim assistance was available in at least 24 out of the 26 cantons, providing a wide-ranging network of care facilities mainly tailored to the needs of women and children; however, trafficking specific services varied significantly from canton to canton. The two cantons without victim assistance would reportedly transfer identified victims to larger cantons with the capacity to provide assistance, though they remained responsible for providing the funding to do so. The government reported a new specialized counseling service for trafficking victims opened in one canton in August 2021. NGOs continued to raise concerns about the discrepancies between cantonal efforts to identify, assist, and protect victims, noting smaller cantons did not have the resources or means to properly assist victims, which could result in re-traumatization. At least 13 cantons maintained formal referral and cooperation agreements with NGO-operated victim assistance facilities that specialized in trafficking. One NGO noted establishing cooperation agreements with an additional seven cantons in 2021.
The Swiss Victim Assistance Law entitled all adult trafficking victims access to the government-funded women’s shelters or assistance centers for victims of abuse and to special safeguards during criminal proceedings; however, the government did not report how many trafficking victims received shelter or special safeguards during the reporting period. At least four government-funded and NGO-operated shelters continued to provide specialized assistance for victims of trafficking, two of which provided services to children. However, according to GRETA and civil society, the government did not have specialized shelters or assistance for child victims of trafficking and standardized identification procedures for children were used inconsistently. With the noted variances, most cantons generally provided victims with a minimum of four weeks of emergency lodging and living allowance, several hours of consultations with a lawyer, mental health counseling and medical treatment, transportation, and translation services. If recovery required more time, the victim assistance law obligated the government to assume the additional cost of longer-term care. Victims had free movement in and out of shelters. While victim assistance was not dependent on cooperation with law enforcement, some NGOs asserted that authorities sometimes used victim penalization to pressure victims into cooperating with law enforcement. Civil society reported decreased capacity and available services for victims due to pandemic-related prevention measures. A variety of sources referred victims to NGO services, including other NGOs, government-operated counseling centers, government offices, foreign consulates, police and judicial authorities, health care sector employees, lawyers, and family. Civil society stated services for labor trafficking victims were limited. According to NGOs, services for child and male victims were inadequate, especially counseling and victim referral resources. The government provided male victims temporary shelter in hotels or government-funded NGO-operated shelters in at least five cantons. The government had a witness protection program that trafficking victims could utilize, but the government did not report how many victims it provided this protection to due to privacy concerns. While NGOs confirmed trafficking victims had access to witness protection if the government referred them, they noted victims were sometimes unaware of their entitlement or it was unavailable to them if they were exploited in trafficking in another country. To encourage victims’ cooperation with law enforcement, the law allowed victims to keep their identities confidential if they were in danger and to testify in a separate room from the defendant. The government prohibited cross-examinations for child trafficking victims, testimonies were videotaped, and authorities were limited to two interviews to minimize re-traumatization.
The government also facilitated additional assistance to foreign victims of trafficking, which included financial support and residence permits; however, authorities granted few long-term residence permits and instead provided victims with repatriation assistance. Cantonal immigration authorities were required to grant victims a minimum 30-day reflection period to decide whether to participate in judicial proceedings against their traffickers, but longer stays generally required cooperation with law enforcement. During the reflection period, victims were able to obtain victim protection and assistance services from NGOs. Foreign victims who were willing to cooperate with law enforcement could be granted a six-month residence permit, renewable for the duration of the investigation and criminal proceedings, after which, victims were required to depart the country. NGOs stated that victims who gave unclear statements to law enforcement—due to trauma suffered—were often denied residence permits. The government could also grant short-term residence permits based on hardship that victims might face upon return to their country of origin. While the government had a national guideline to ensure uniformity in the granting of residence permits across the country, in practice, the approval of the permits varied by canton.
While authorities continued to note the growing number of potential trafficking victims among asylum-seekers during the reporting period, they officially identified relatively few victims. The State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) did not report officially identifying any trafficking victims in 2021, compared with four in 2020 and one in 2019. However, NGOs stated that implementation of the 2019 asylum law, which ensured early access to legal aid, increased successful victim identification. SEM reported providing potential trafficking victims with a pamphlet on their rights, redesigned in 2021, during their hearing to determine if they were victims. The government’s border police screened newly arrived asylum-seekers alone to eliminate the potential influence of traffickers operating within migrant camps, and specialists at SEM ensured identification and coordination practices remained consistent across the federal asylum reception centers. FedPol reported asylum hearings for potential trafficking victims, though more difficult to conduct, continued despite pandemic-related restrictions. In May 2021, the Asylum and Human Trafficking working group published its recommendations for improving the identification of trafficking victims in the asylum system—many of which the government undertook, including the new 30-day reflection period to decide whether to cooperate with law enforcement—and a special hearing for suspected victims. The working group also recommended that an independent body be responsible for victim identification and that an option for appealing hearing decisions should exist. Civil society expressed concern that the government remained without a national victim identification mechanism for trafficking victims in the asylum system and urged increased national coordination and for law enforcement to take a more victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to victim interviews. Trafficking victims often remained unidentified by the government within the asylum system, and civil society urged the government to involve them at the earliest stage possible and at asylum hearings to ensure victims of trafficking avoided deportation. Civil society also highlighted a tendency for officials to misidentify unaccompanied asylum-seeking children as adults, which allowed authorities to transfer the children back to their country of first entrance and into accommodation facilities for adults. Civil society noted an increasing number of unaccompanied children continued to disappear from asylum centers. GRETA also noted the lack of adequate accommodation and supervision for unaccompanied children and lack of a systematic approach; GRETA urged the government to address these issues in its 2019 report. Civil society criticized the government for not systematically referring foreign victims to services once identified and often shifting responsibility to the legal advisor. The victim’s legal advisor could refer victims to NGOs for assistance, but the government did not offer financial support for victim assistance, according to an NGO. NGOs and GRETA continued to report asylum accommodations and psychological counseling in asylum centers were inappropriate and insufficient for assisting trafficking victims, all of which were exacerbated by the pandemic. NGOs reported asylum-seekers experienced destabilization because many were transferred to different accommodations throughout the pandemic and some accommodations were no longer gender-sensitive, leading to increased harassment and a decreased freedom of movement, particularly for female and LGBTQI+ individuals. The guide on accommodation requirements for asylum-seekers at federal asylum centers remained pending during the reporting period. The government reported that victim services were only available to victims who experienced trafficking within Switzerland; however, NGOs argued there were exceptions to this policy under Article 17 of the Swiss Victim Aid Act, which were not uniformly applied. NGOs urged the government to enact improved protections and assistance for victims who experienced trafficking abroad. The practice of deporting asylum-seekers back to their first country of entrance was suspended during the pandemic. GRETA noted cantons often did not transfer victims detected in the asylum system to specialized trafficking victim support centers because of financial constraints and instead continued to host them in asylum centers.
The government continued to lack comprehensive statistics on restitution and damages awarded to victims and did not require prosecutors to systematically request restitution during criminal trials. Trafficking victims could receive restitution from the trafficker through criminal proceedings; however, unlike prior years, the government did not report awarding restitution to any victims in 2021, 2020, or 2019, compared with 25 victims in 2018 and 31 victims in 2017. GRETA and civil society noted restitution amounts were insufficient, especially compared with other serious crimes, such as rape. NGOs reported it was often a difficult and lengthy process for victims to obtain restitution from traffickers and few victims received the full amount. NGOs also reported instances of the government denying restitution for formally recognized labor trafficking victims because they were undocumented and lacked the required permits. GRETA criticized the lack of viable avenues for victim restitution when victims had no verifiable expenses or employment losses because the courts found it difficult to quantify the specific amount of lost income. NGOs reported a lack of uniformity in the court’s determination for sufficient restitution, noting very small amounts awarded to severely traumatized victims. Trafficking victims could also pursue damages through a civil case, but the government did not report whether any victims brought suits and were consequently awarded damages in 2021. Victims could seek a maximum of 120,000 Swiss francs ($131,290) in compensation from the government if the crime took place in Switzerland and the convicted trafficker was unable to pay the awarded restitution or damages; however, the government did not report awarding compensation to any victims in 2021. While the government had a legal provision prohibiting the punishment of victims of crimes, it did not specifically address human trafficking or the criminal coercion often experienced in trafficking cases. The decision to prosecute a trafficking victim was left to prosecutors, who did not always apply the principle in trafficking cases to prevent the defense from perceiving the prosecution as biased. Although the government continued to screen for trafficking victims, NGOs asserted penalization of unidentified victims was common, with victims frequently charged with petty crimes, violation of local commercial sex regulations, or immigration and labor laws. NGOs reported improvements in non-penalization of victims when the government increased its cooperation with civil society, as civil society reported helping identify victims the government did not, intervening on behalf of victims, and building greater trust. Civil society urged the government to involve them at the earliest stages possible, as screenings by law enforcement, immigration, and social services remained an issue, particularly in cases of labor exploitation. NGOs and GRETA urged the government to adopt a provision on the non-punishment of trafficking victims, and GRETA encouraged additional training of public prosecutors in this regard.
The government maintained prevention efforts. Under FedPol, FSMM coordinated national efforts, including anti-trafficking policies, information exchange, cooperation, and training. Following a 2018 restructuring of FSMM, civil society and GRETA continued to express concerns regarding a decrease in a victim-centered, multidisciplinary, and collaborative approach to trafficking; civil society continued to report that the coordinating body within FSMM, the National Expert Group to Combat Trafficking in Persons, was ineffective and had yet to convene any meetings. NGOs and experts continued to assert that the government provided insufficient personnel and funding to FSMM, which hindered their ability to coordinate national anti-trafficking efforts for all 26 cantons. In 2020 and 2021, due to pandemic-related restrictions, FSMM canceled its national meeting of the heads of the cantonal anti-trafficking roundtables; the government reported holding cantonal roundtables but did not report the number held. NGOs reported many of FedPol’s initiatives were postponed due to the pandemic. The government remained without an official independent national anti-trafficking rapporteur. The government did not adopt a new NAP after the expiration of its 2017-2020 plan, and while the government reported plans to draft a new NAP, the government did not begin drafting it during the reporting period. NGOs expressed interest in the new NAP including a clarification of roles and responsibilities, including for FedPol. In 2021 and 2022, the government continued to provide funding to an NGO to operate the national anti-trafficking hotline, 51,600 Swiss francs ($56,460) in 2021 and 53,125 Swiss Francs ($58,120) allocated in 2022; the NGO reported receiving 79 calls pertaining to 99 victims and referring 40 victims to police. In 2021, another NGO began operating a 24-hour hotline that police could use to refer trafficking victims to shelter and other victim protection services. Civil society reported that FedPol commissioned an independent study on the effect of FedPol’s grants for law enforcement measures to combat trafficking and crimes related to commercial sex; the study found that while FedPol’s grants were effective, more funding was needed for prevention, and FedPol announced plans to increase funding in 2023. In collaboration with an international organization and with the participation of seven NGOs, several trade unions, and multiple government agencies, the government launched a labor trafficking awareness campaign for one week in 2021 across seven cantons and virtually, which included panel discussions, conferences, film screenings, trainings, lectures, radio broadcasts, and podcasts. Government-funded NGOs also reported hosting several labor trafficking awareness workshops and NGOs reported the government produced a trafficking awareness video specifically targeting the Nigerian population.
Insufficient personnel and resources hampered in-depth labor inspections; additionally, civil society reported labor inspectors frequently regarded foreign victims as criminals working illegally. Labor inspectors lacked a specific mandate to identify trafficking victims; however, if inspectors did identify any potential victims, they were required to refer potential trafficking cases to police. A government-funded NGO signed an agreement with the government in 2021, which formalized a procedure for potential victims referred to police by labor inspectors and would ensure the NGO was involved to assist in victim identification. In recognition of the critical role labor inspectors had in identifying trafficking victims and as a follow-on to the awareness campaign in 2020, government-funded NGOs organized two workshops for nearly 70 labor inspectors across 17 cantons to raise awareness of human trafficking. In 2021, the government, including law enforcement, labor inspectors, and EUROPOL, participated in three joint action days (JAD): one targeting labor exploitation, one targeting child trafficking, and one targeting sexual exploitation, forced begging, and forced criminality; the JADs resulted in the inspection of 238 establishments and locations, the identification of 11 potential victims, and the arrest of three suspects—an increase compared with results from 2020. Swiss labor recruitment agencies required a license and were liable if foreign recruitment agencies did not uphold Swiss recruitment regulations. Although there were no such cases reported, Swiss employers could legally charge a registration or placement fee to workers, which could put them at risk of debt bondage. Third country nationals required prior approval from the government before changing employers, which may have increased their vulnerability to trafficking. In 2021, the government launched the Swiss Forum on Business and Human Rights where the government agreed to provide support to small-to-medium enterprises regarding human rights due diligence; the government organized multistakeholder events and conducted training courses on business and human rights throughout the year with a focus on forced labor in supply chains. In January 2021, the government passed a law allowing the government contracting authority to require suppliers to comply with provisions related to the protection of employees, labor conditions, equal pay, and environmental regulations prior to awarding public procurement contracts; if suppliers failed to comply, they could be excluded from obtaining future contracts for five years.
The government continued to provide funding to foreign countries for anti-trafficking efforts, including an awareness raising campaign in Nigeria and funding for an international organization working in Lebanon and Jordan. The government also continued to fund the Better Work and the Sustaining Competitive and Responsible Enterprises programs, which aimed to improve working conditions, including forced labor, around the world. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex. While the government participated in several international law enforcement efforts to increase government and law enforcement collaboration on child sex tourism, the government did not demonstrate overall efforts to reduce the demand for international child sex tourism by Swiss nationals.
As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in Switzerland. The pandemic exacerbated vulnerabilities for trafficking victims, and sex traffickers are increasingly using online platforms to recruit, exploit victims, and book apartment rentals to make their illicit operations difficult to track. Victims’ debt to their traffickers, and subsequently the traffickers’ control over the victims, increased during the pandemic because victims were sometimes unable to work and earn money. Victims’ access to services was limited due to pandemic-related restrictions in 2020, which increased isolation and vulnerabilities to trafficking. In 2022, refugees, predominantly women and children, fleeing Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, are vulnerable to trafficking. Traffickers are frequently family members, friends, or romantic partners, as well as agencies offering fraudulent employment, travel, and marriage. Traffickers are both Swiss and foreign nationals; foreign traffickers typically have the same nationality as their victims. Although the vast majority of traffickers are male, female traffickers are not uncommon, especially women from Nigeria and Thailand. Traffickers are increasingly mobile and adaptable, switching industries and locations frequently. Sex traffickers exploit both foreign and domestic women, transgender individuals, and children. Traffickers, often involved with criminal networks, increasingly exploit female and transgender victims from Thailand. Swiss nationals continue to engage in child sex tourism abroad. Authorities report an increase in young male traffickers, known as “lover boys,” coercing vulnerable Swiss girls and women into sex trafficking, often through a sham romantic relationship. The majority of sex trafficking victims identified by the government are from Eastern Europe, West Africa, notably Nigeria, and Asia, particularly Thailand. Traffickers continue to fraudulently recruit and later coerce Nigerian women and girls to stay in exploitative situations using a “voodoo oath” they are forced to swear. Foreign trafficking victims originate primarily from Central and Eastern Europe (particularly Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania), with increasing numbers from Asia and Africa (especially from the People’s Republic of China, Nigeria, and Thailand), but also from Latin America (Brazil and the Dominican Republic). Traffickers often force female victims among asylum-seekers from Angola, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Nigeria into commercial sex and domestic servitude. More than one-third of female trafficking victims are asylum-seekers who sought protection after arriving in Switzerland. Labor traffickers exploit men, women, and children in domestic service, health care, agriculture, hospitality, catering, postal courier services, construction, tourism, and in forced criminal activity. Male victims among asylum-seekers come primarily from Afghanistan and Eritrea and are exploited in forced labor. Forced begging, especially among the Roma communities, has increased in recent years.