Overview of important legislation in Switzerland relating to human trafficking
Provisions for fighting human trafficking exist in a number of international agreements reaching as far back as the beginning of the nineteenth century. Today, the most important ones are:
UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols thereto, dated 15 November 2000 (UNTOC)
The Additional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Annex II, Palermo Protocol) contains the international definition of human trafficking in Article 3.
- Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, dated 16 May 2005
- Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse
- Convention of the Rights of the Child, dated 20 November 1989
- Optional Protocol on the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, dated 25 May 2000
Forced Labour Convention, 1930 (No. 29)
Convention concerning Forced or Compulsory Labour
- OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings
Swiss Criminal Code (SCC)
Article 182, in force since 1 December 2006. The new provision makes human trafficking not only for the purpose of sexual exploitation, but also for the purpose of exploiting labour and the removal of human organs a criminal offence. Even a single instance of trafficking one person is now a criminal offence, and recruiting victims is treated on the same level as trafficking. Moreover, trafficking on a commercial basis and trafficking in children are considered aggravating circumstances.
Federal Act on Foreign Nationals (AuG; SR 142.20)
Article 30 and Article 60
Ordinance on Admission, Period of Stay and Employment (VZAE, SR 142.201; in German)
Article 31, Article 35 and Article 36.
Under the legal provisions, victims and witnesses of human trafficking may be granted a temporary permit to stay in Switzerland during a period of reflection, during criminal proceedings against perpetrators or in cases of serious personal hardship.
Staying in Switzerland without gainful employment, on account of substancial public interest, or in case of severe personal hardship (in German)
The directives issued by the State Secretariat for Migration SEM on 1 February 2013 provide information on the application of the provisions regarding the stay of victims and witnesses of human trafficking. The provisions pertaining to human trafficking are contained in chapter 5.6.8 entitled "Victims and witnesses of human trafficking”. Among other things the directives stipulate that obtaining a permit on the grounds of serious personal hardship does not depend on whether a witness is willing to make a statement during criminal proceedings. The directives also point out the scope of action available under the Foreign Nationals Act and the Regulation on Admission, Stay and Employment.
Federal Act on Assistance to Victims of Crime (Victims Assistance Act, OHG; SR 312.5; in German) dated 23 March 2007
This piece of legislation provides the basis for the care and support of human trafficking victims. The cantons are obliged to take into consideration the special needs of certain groups of victims (such as human trafficking victims) when providing counselling facilities, thus promoting specialised victim care.
- Federal Act on Extra-Procedural Witness Protection (SR 312.2; in German), dated 23 December 2011
- Ordinance on Extra-Procedural Witness Protection (SR 312.21; in German), dated 7 November 2012
- Ordinance on Measures to Prevent Criminal Offences in Connection with Human Trafficking (Anti-Human Trafficking Ordinance, SR 311.039.3; in German), dated 23 October 2013
Established case law in Switzerland
Decision by the Federal Supreme Court (BGE 128 IV 117); in German
A victim’s consent is irrelevant if the perpetrators exploit the economic plight in the country of origin and the person thus becomes a victim of human trafficking.
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