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Opening event: Swiss week against trafficking in persons

Media advisory | 11 October 2013
Human trafficking is one of the world's most serious crimes, but also one of the most complex human rights challenges of our time. While the global scale of human trafficking is difficult to quantify, as many as 800,000 people may be trafficked across international borders each year, with many more being trafficked inside their own countries.

According to the UN, between 2007 and 2010, over 22,000 victims were identified in Central and Eastern Europe. Switzerland has not remained unaffected by human trafficking, as the Federal Office of Police (fedpol) reports. Criminal groups traffic victims from various countries to and through Switzerland. The Swiss criminal statistic indicates 78 registered offences of human trafficking in 2012, a number which may only show the “tip of the iceberg,” according to Swiss Federal Counselor Simonetta Sommaruga.

During the week of 18-25 October 2013, various events will be organized throughout Switzerland to mark the country’s first annual week against trafficking in persons. The week is organized by a group of governmental, social, and civil society stakeholders brought together by IOM Bern and the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.

On 18th October 2013 a one-day Opening Event will take place in Geneva to mark the European Anti-Trafficking Day and to launch the Swiss week against trafficking persons.

It will aim to raise awareness in the international community and among the general public on the different types of exploitation that exist around the world, including slavery, bonded labour, domestic servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, and removal of organs.

The opening event will be organized in coordination with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR.)

The opening event will take place in Geneva on Friday 18 October, 2013

International Conference Centre of Geneva (CICG), 17 rue de Varembé, Geneva, Switzerland


9:30 am - 12:15 am – Introduction and Panel Discussion (by invitation only)

  • Claude Wild, Head of Human Security Division, Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs will welcome participants, followed by the key notes of UN Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Ms. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Contemporary Forms of Slavery, Ms. Gulnara Shahinian.

  • The Special Rapporteurs will then moderate a panel debate that will bring together eminent experts to discuss definitions of contemporary forms of slavery in international law:
- definitions of contemporary forms of slavery, human trafficking, various forms of human exploitation and implications of the existing international legal framework,
- significance of a lack of conceptual clarity for international cooperation and policy development; national law and practice which sheds light on these concerns.
The panel debate will be streamed live on the Internet. Statements will also be available on-line.

All journalists holding a valid press card are welcome to participate to the following events:

14:30 - 15:15 pm – High-Level Event (by invitation only)
  • Formal statements by Simonetta Sommaruga, Federal Counselor and Head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police, and the high representatives of organising agencies, to be followed by a cocktail.
  • Venue: CICG, Espace polyvalent and room 2 at 2:30 pm.

15:15 pm - 15:30 pm - Press Meeting
  • Venue: CICG, room 13

14:00 pm - 18:00 pm - Exhibition/Discussion Arena (open to the general public)
  • The public exhibition will consist of stands/booths highlighting various kinds of exploitation, with presentations from national delegations on the following themes:
- Slavery 14:30 pm
- Bonded labour 15:00 pm
- Domestic servitude 15:30 pm
- Forced labour 16:00 pm
- Forced marriage 16:30 pm
- Removal of organs 17.00 pm

More information, including the live web streaming and videos, will be available at the following link:


For more information, please contact :

  • at IOM, Gaëlle Sévenier, Spokesperson - E-mail: - Tel: +4122/717-9361/9486, Mobile: +4179/285-4366
  • at ILO, Hans Von Rohland, Spokesperson - E-mail: – Tel: +4122/799-7916
  • at UNHCR, Daniel MacIsaac, Senior Communications Officer - E-mail:, Tel: +4122/739-8154 l, Mobile +4179/200-7617
  • at OHCHR: Cecile Pouilly, Media Officer – E-mail:, Tel: +4122/927-9310, Mobile: 079/618-3430
  • Information DFAE, Palais fédéral ouest, CH-3003 Berne, tél. +4131/322-3153, fax +4131/324-9047,,
  • General contact for the anti-trafficking week: