Unlike neighbouring countries, Switzerland is not doing enough to protect the victims of human trafficking, according to the United States Government 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report, news site NZZ Online reported.
Switzerland is home to between 2,000 and 3,000 victims of human trafficking, according to the report. The majority of these are women and children forced into prostitution, begging and stealing.
The victims come mainly from Central and Eastern Europe, in particular from Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine. Some are as young as 14 years old, and most of the victims have experienced violence and abuse prior to arriving in Switzerland.
The report criticised Switzerland for not doing enough to help the victims, and pointed especially to the fact that children had rarely been identified as victims.
In addition, the report pointed to instances where traffickers had got away on suspended sentences, instead of being sentenced to 20 years in prison, the maximum sentence for trafficking.
The report advised Switzerland to raise its standards to the international level, and in particular to focus more on male victims who often were often overlooked by NGOs or other groups working in this area.