Trafficked children

"Switzerland is also concerned"
General Secretariat of the Swiss Committee for UNICEF

"When hosting and guiding children and young unaccompanied minors, attention must be paid to the specific risks to which they are exposed, including: human trafficking and other forms of exploitation (including sexual), or contact with criminal organizations. Awareness and prevention against any situation where UAM’s could be victims of human trafficking or other forms of exploitation in Switzerland are among the tasks of people ensuring guidance and legal representation."

Recommendations of the CDAS on children and unaccompanied youth in the field of asylum, 2016

At the European level, see the recommendations of the Separated Children's Programme in Europe (SCEP): Statement of good practice, 2010


Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, to prevent, repress and punish the trafficking in persons, especially women and children, defines as follows:

Trafficking in human beings means the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of persons, by the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits (...). Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs. (Art. 3 al. a)

The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if they do not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this Article. (Article 3 al. C)

Child victims of trafficking in Switzerland

Various forms of trafficking have been identified in research carried out in Switzerland on the subject. These studies raised issues including:

  • Minor domestic workers, ranging from decent working conditions to those of clear exploitation (Terre des hommes, 2004)
  • Young people recruited in their home countries by drug sales networks (Wata, 2003)
  • Young people in Switzerland recruited by drug sales networks (Efionayi-Mäder et al., 2005)
  • Commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in Switzerland (Studer and Peter, 1999)

Fight against human trafficking in Switzerland

Several tools to fight this have been put in place by the authorities. The Federal Office of Police (fedpol) has created a special commission to fight against such trafficking in human beings. The Coordination Unit against the Trafficking of Persons and Smuggling of Migrants (SCOTT) ensures, since 2003, the coordination between the various services involved and develops tools and strategies against these crimes. Some cantons have also established an inter-service cooperation mechanism to fight against human trafficking.

Switzerland ratified the 2006 UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Palermo Protocol. A new section of the Swiss Penal Code "Trafficking in persons" (art. 182) came into force the same year. The dialogue on this issue and specific measures of care, however, remain to be developed.

Manuel "Trafficking in children. Prevention, identification and support of child victims"

In 2016, ECPAT Switzerland issued procedural guide in case of suspicion of child trafficking in concrete situations from asylum, border crossing or petty crime. The manual also provides general legal information related to human trafficking and the rights of the child.To download or order the manual in French or German, click here.

For further information, please contact ECPAT Switzerland:
Child Protection Switzerland
ECPAT Switzerland
Seftigenstrasse 41
3007 Berne
031 384 29 29