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Switzerland included in US report into human trafficking

Rallies against human trafficking such as this one in Nepal have raised awareness of the issue

(Keystone Archive)

Over 80 countries around the world, including Switzerland, have been included in a United States report into human trafficking released on Thursday.

In its first annual report into the prevalence of human trafficking around the world, the US state department called on those countries appearing at the bottom of its list to do more to eradicate what it called an "abomination against humanity".

Countries included in the report are divided into three categories, with countries appearing in "tier three" coming in for the most damning criticism.

US allies such as Israel, considered in the report to be a destination for trafficking from former Soviet states, and Greece, described as a transit and destination point, are among other countries grouped together in tier three.

Switzerland appears together with a number of other countries in "tier one", all of which were deemed to have a significant number of victims of human trafficking.

"Switzerland is primarily a destination country for trafficked women and is also a transit country," reads the report.

The report also claims the number of women trafficked in Switzerland is increasing and that most of them originate from the former Eastern bloc and Soviet countries.

Switzerland is praised, however, for prosecuting those behind the illegal trade in humans, for protecting victims and for sponsoring prevention campaigns.

"The Swiss government meets the minimum standards and is taking significant additional steps at the federal level to combat trafficking."

Countries joining Switzerland in the top tier include Britain, Canada, Germany, Austria, Italy, Columbia and the Netherlands.

The largest group of countries appear in "tier two", which includes countries that failed to meet minimum standards but which were showing signs of dealing with the problem.

Countries in this category include France, China, Japan and Thailand.

Speaking at a press conference to launch the report, US secretary of state Colin Powell said its findings proved that it is "abundantly clear that trafficking is going on all over the world in both developed and developing countries."

"It is incomprehensible that trafficking in human beings should be taking place in the 21st century, but it's true - very true," he added.

The report was commissioned by the US Congress last year in a bid to identify countries taking the least action to combat trafficking.

Sanctions may be imposed by the US administration on any of the countries appearing on the list if they have not shown signs of improvement by 2003.

swissinfo with agencies

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