Cantonal roundtables and co-operation mechanisms to fight human trafficking
Human trafficking roundtables are cantonal co-ordination platforms established to help combat this form of crime. Whilst the Swiss federal state is responsible for human trafficking legislation, the cantons are basically responsible for prosecuting the culprits and protecting the victims. The effects on victims of this human rights’ violation must be minimized by ensuring they receive the necessary assistance and protection. And convicting traffickers depends on incriminating evidence from victims.
These aspects illustrate that a multitude of agencies and public authorities in the cantons are involved in dealing with human trafficking cases. They include public prosecution agencies and police in the field of law enforcement, victim assistance and social welfare agencies to provide victim assistance and protection, advisory bureaus for counselling prostitutes, migration authorities to regulate the stay in Switzerland of victims, and trade inspectorates to deal with questions of licensing and managing bars and clubs.
An especially important aspect is the institutionalised co-operation between prosecution authorities and specialised victim assistance agencies: their interests may diverge in the process because incriminating statements against the culprits can jeopardise the victim protection of specialised victim assistance agencies.
Co-operation between all agencies, authorities and organisations involved does not just happen automatically, but must first be discussed and agreed upon within the framework of roundtable talks before investigating individual cases. The main aims of roundtable talks are;
- to determine the agency and contact person in the canton responsible for co-operation;
- to communicate the functions and tasks of those agencies involved and define their tasks;
- to co-ordinate and make binding provisions on victim protection and prosecution procedures.
Co-operation is defined in a co-operation agreement which, ideally, is submitted to the cantonal government for approval to underline the binding nature of its provisions. The agreement thus provides a co-operation mechanism in the cantons for fighting human trafficking. The purpose of roundtable talks is to evaluate co-operation and discuss improvements and other measures against human trafficking.
Further aspects of roundtable talks and co-operation mechanisms are raising awareness, and providing information and training on the phenomenon of human trafficking and its various forms in the cantons. This results in a greater commitment to, and success in combating this form of crime.
Indeed, the number of people identified as human trafficking victims and the number of prosecutions are directly related to the existence of roundtables in the cantons. Thus, these co-operation mechanisms provide regional frameworks in Switzerland for identifying cases of human trafficking.
The following cantons have human trafficking roundtables and/or a co-operation agreement: AG, BE, BL, BS, FR, GE, LU, NE, NW, OW, SG, SO, SZ, TG, TI, VD, VS, ZH.
Survey of statistically covered criminal offences and cantons providing or not providing cantonal cooperation mechanisms designed to combat human trafficking (2009-2012):
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