US blasts Bern over underage prostitution

US blasts Bern over underage prostitution
Kuzma (File)

A visiting US envoy has criticized Switzerland for its failure to ban the prostitution of minors.

The US special ambassador Luis CdeBaca met with Justice Minister Simonetta Sommaruga in Bern on Tuesday to discuss the issue of human trafficking.

Although CdeBaca praised Switzerland in his report for its efforts to combat human trafficking, he also criticised the fact that the prostitution of minors still had not been prohibited.

During his one-day visit, Sommaruga explained how the Swiss system works, and assured him that a new ban against minors practising prostitution will come into force soon.

Last summer, the government said it was beginning consultations with parliament to close a legal loophole that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to work as prostitutes.

Sommaruga explained that the cantons are responsible for law enforcement but that they are supported by the federal agencies such as the Coordination Unit against the Trafficking and Smuggling of Migrants, the Human Trafficking Commissariat and the Federal Office of Police.

The Justice Minister also described the new witness protection program that is being introduced in January 2013, not only as a means to protect those placed in it, but also as a means to improve the quantity of evidence obtained.

CdeBaca is responsible for monitoring and combating human trafficking in the United States. Last week, he published a report on the worldwide fight against human trafficking, considered a modern form of slavery.

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