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Forced prostitution to be fought at Euro 2008

The authorities are hoping prostitution won't flourish during the next European football championships Keystone

Swiss police and non-governmental organisations say they will both be countering forced prostitution during the 2008 European football championship.

This content was published on January 26, 2007 - 19:00

Police announced on Friday they will increase checks during the tournament, which is to be held in Switzerland and Austria, while the NGOs will be carrying out prevention and awareness programmes.

Both parties will be following recommendations issued by the Swiss Coordination Unit against the Trafficking of Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. These guidelines are the result of an evaluation carried out by the unit during last year's World Cup in Germany.

Ahead of the tournament, there were fears that up to 40,000 foreign women would be forced to prostitute themselves during football's biggest event.

It turned out though that there were only five officially registered cases of human trafficking considered to be directly linked to the cup.

The German police and local NGOs also noted that there was no increase in legal prostitution, with demand actually dropping in some places and business remaining stable in others.

In check

Analysts say that different factors helped keep prostitution in check, including a stronger police presence that may have contributed to scare away traffickers, prostitutes and customers.

Information campaigns probably also made potential clients realise they might come into contact with women forced to sell themselves.

The fact that the World Cup was considered a family event also made opportunities few and far between for prostitutes' clients.

The Swiss unit reckons that results in Germany show that forced prostitution should not be a problem during Euro 2008, although it cannot be ruled out. This, it says, is why prevention campaigns should take place.

It is recommending that these campaigns be run by NGOs in collaboration with victim protection associations and the Euro 2008 organisers.

The Swiss authorities have already promised a total of SFr100,000 ($61,804) in financial support for programmes it approves.

Clean fun

Fans will be able to enjoy some fun of a cleaner kind and a festive atmosphere in the four Swiss cities hosting games during the Euro 2008 - Geneva, Basel, Zurich and Bern. Areas with free access will be set aside with giant screens for the 23 days of the competition.

Uefa, the European football association, will pay each of the cities SFr1.2 million for the organisation of these specific events. Up to 17 other Swiss town will also host special match-day parties during the championship for fans unable to buy match tickets.

Officials said Wednesday they hope the public screenings will be as successful as the "fan fests" in German cities during the World Cup, which drew hundreds of thousands and were lauded in all quarters.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

The European football championships take place in Switzerland and Austria from June 7-29, 2008.

Fifteen matches take place in Switzerland: in Basel, Bern, Geneva and Zurich.

Free fan zones are planned in Zurich (around the lake and the upper-Limmat area), Basel (at the army barracks, in Kleinbasel district and between the Badischer Bahnhof and the main railway station), Bern (the upper part of the old town) and Geneva (in Plainpalais district and towards the main railway station).

The draw for the final group stage will take place on December 2, 2007.

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Police handbook

Security services working at Euro 2008 will be given a handbook on how to welcome fans in the best possible conditions.

Around 160 pages long, it will have a print run of 40,000 copies in French and German. The handbook will be issued in February 2008.

This should give police officers, army personnel and security agents enough time to become familiar with its contents according to the Federal Police Office.

The manual is based on experience gathered at the 2006 world cup in Germany.

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