Human trafficking: Switzerland - Nigeria

Bern, Press release, 24.06.2011

For some years, Swiss and EU authorities have noted that an increasing number of young Nigerian women are falling victim to human trafficking. For this reason, the FDFA in collaboration with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) have invited experts from Nigeria, Switzerland and the Netherlands to take part in a round-table discussion in Bern to exchange experiences and discuss possible solutions.

Between 2007 and 2009 in particular, the Swiss authorities and migration protection organisations have recorded an increasing number of young Nigerian women entering Switzerland and disappearing without trace. Investigations have shown that in some cases they were subsequently sent to other parts of Europe specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Although in Switzerland, fewer Nigerian victims have been identified in the last few years, trafficking in Italy and other neighbouring countries has remained widespread.  

In view of this situation the participants of the round-table talks addressed among other things the question of whether Switzerland has in fact become less attractive as a destination or transit country or whether criminal networks have adopted new methods to make victims more difficult to identify and in this way to ensure they remain invisible. Among the items for discussion was information that in some European countries, traffickers use voodoo rituals (spiritual practices) to control their victims. The Swiss migration, victim protection and criminal investigation authorities discussed the importance of this phenomenon in the context of working with Nigerian nationals. A Dutch expert reported on the incidence of this in the Netherlands. 

The round-table discussions are part of the activities conducted in the framework of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between Nigeria and Switzerland in February 2011, in which both parties agree to work together to establish a migration partnership on a comprehensive and balanced basis.

The migration partnership focuses on fighting human trafficking and the drugs trade, as well as on including Nigerians living abroad in development work, capacity building with the Nigerian immigration authorities, a regional protection and reintegration system for migrant children and young people, and further training for young Nigerian professionals working in Switzerland. In 2010, there were 1,969 new applications for asylum in Switzerland, making Nigerians the largest single group of asylum seekers in this country. 

The round-table discussions on human trafficking are conducted on a regular basis and address different aspects of this subject. The aim is to promote direct cooperation between the Swiss authorities and their counterparts in the countries of origin of victims in Switzerland, to discuss current challenges to combating human trafficking, and to help develop new approaches to action.

Further information:

page trafficking in human beings

Address for enquiries:

Information FDFA
Bundeshaus West
CH-3003 Bern
Tel.: (+41) 031 322 31 53
Fax: (+41) 031 324 90 47


Federal Department of Foreign Affairs