Documentary and discussion on human trafficking

Article, 18.10.2013

The documentary film «The Long Way Out», telling the story of six children who escaped from a European human trafficking ring, will be screened on Sunday, 20 October 2013, at the Rex cinema in Fribourg. A discussion with the participation of the president of the Swiss Social Democratic Party, Christian Levrat, and the head of the SDC programme on migration and development, Odile Rittener, will follow.

Saléo is one of the six protagonists of the documentary film "The Long Way Out". (

In collaboration with other partners, the SDC will screen the documentary film «The Long Way Out» on 20 October 2013 at the Rex cinema in Fribourg. The film tells the story of the social reintegration of six young adults ten years after they escaped from a European human trafficking ring.

The screening will be followed by a discussion with the participation of the president of the Swiss Social Democratic Party, Christian Levrat, and the head of SDC programme on migration and development, Odile Rittener.

This event, entitled "Traite des enfants en Europe, parlons-en!" [«Child trafficking in Europe, let's talk about it!»] marks the start of the week in Switzerland dedicated to the fight against human trafficking from 18 to 25 October 2013. This is the first year that Switzerland dedicates not just a day but a whole week to this issue.

What regions and issues does the SDC focus on in its efforts to combat human trafficking?

Odile Rittener: Human trafficking is a global scourge that has worsened in the last twenty years as a result of globalisation. It is a transnational phenomenon and one of the most lucrative organised crime activities.

The SDC endeavours to incorporate this global aspect into its various activities. At the core of its efforts are partnership and exchange – in prevention, protecting victims and criminal prosecution – between the authorities of different countries.

For example, combating human trafficking is an element of the migration partnerships Switzerland has established with Serbia and Nigeria. The SDC supports various countries in the development of a coherent policy on migration – for example in Morocco and West Africa – and insists that protection of the most vulnerable migrants be fully integrated into these policies.

Projects that fight human trafficking in Eastern Europe (Ukraine, Moldova, the Caucasus) also benefit from the SDC's support. In Ukraine, for example, an ongoing SDC project is supporting different social institutions to offer better economic prospects and training to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

«The Long Way Out» is a documentary that follows the reintegration of six young adults after they escape from a trafficking ring. How can the SDC and its partners help such people?

A vital part of helping the victims of human trafficking to reintegrate in their country of origin is to ensure that it will not happen again. This is especially important as often a family member is involved in recruiting the victim. The solution is to offer genuine alternatives to the families. The SDC and its various partners can provide support, for example in the areas of vocational training, the creation of jobs for young people and ensuring the food security of vulnerable people.

  • «The Long Way Out» (2012): In 2002, French director Clara Ott filmed six children – Toni, Ela, Shpetim, Maringlen, Najada and Saléo – as they returned to Albania shortly after escaping from a trafficking ring in Greece. Ten years after this first documentary, she returned to visit these young adults to understand what reintegration into society was like for them.
  • Human trafficking: Human trafficking is a modern form of slavery in which people are recruited, procured or made available for the purposes of sexual exploitation (prostitution, the production of pornographic material) or for forced labour or organ harvesting. Each year, between 600,000 and 2.4 million people – mainly women and children – are victims of human trafficking worldwide.

«There needs to be more awareness of these offences»

Mr. Levrat, in what way is human trafficking an issue in Switzerland?

Christian Levrat: Switzerland is a target country for trafficking and to a lesser extent a transit country for the victims. Forced marriages still occur in our country and prostitution is still an industry that is affected by these abuses. People therefore need to be more aware of these offences, which are often extremely serious.

What solutions do you advocate to combat this phenomenon?

At local and cantonal level, prostitution needs to be controlled, for one thing. Canton Fribourg adopted a law to this end in 2010. It makes prevention of forced prostitution possible: sex workers consider the police as a source of protection in case of abuse and not as a threat.

At judicial level, the status of victims still needs to be clarified. For example, what type of work permit can they be granted during court proceedings? How can we protect their families and convince them to testify against their abuser? The victims are afraid. They are being threatened. All too often they disappear. Finally at the federal level, we need to make sure that the SDC and other agencies responsible for fighting human trafficking get the necessary political and financial support.