Berne, 18 April 2018 – The Philippine Embassy in Berne, in cooperation with the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-Berne, organized an awareness-raising event on human trafficking.


The event aimed to heighten awareness on human trafficking and inform the public of the measures undertaken to address human trafficking, including possible assistance available to trafficked victims.


Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland Denis Yap Lepatan welcomed the guests. A seasoned diplomat previously posted at the Philippine Mission to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador Lepatan recounted his experience in dealing with human trafficking issues at the UN. He discussed the history of Philippine advocacy on human trafficking in international arena. “Trafficking in women and girls has been a Philippine advocacy since at least 1994 when the Philippines tabled the first resolution on trafficking in women and girls at the UN General Assembly,” said Ambassador Lepatan.


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Ambassador Denis Yap Lepatan delivers his welcome remarks and short message about Human Trafficking


The Ambassador stressed that the Philippines has always advocated for criminalizing trafficking in all its forms, and condemning and penalizing traffickers and intermediaries, while ensuring protection and assistance to the victims of trafficking with full respect for their human rights.


Ms. Claire Potaux-Vesy, IOM-Berne’s Deputy Chief of Mission, discussed the human trafficking situation in Switzerland, how to identify victims of trafficking, the forms of assistance available to trafficked victims, and which institutions to approach for assistance.


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Ms. Potaux-Vesy explains to the audience the situation of Human Trafficking in Switzerland


Ms. Fabienne Reber, also from IOM-Berne, discussed the various initiatives of the organization to promote awareness on human trafficking, which includes IOM’s awareness-raising bus, a mobile exposition on the concept of human trafficking and all that it entails. The bus goes around Switzerland and stops at designated cities.


During the open discussions that followed, questions asked include where domestic workers who are abused by their employers could go for help; what IOM does in case trafficked victims do not wish to return to their countries of origin; Philippine initiatives on the fight against human trafficking; and role of IOM in punishing traffickers, among others. Representatives from some diplomatic missions in Berne also shared their respective national initiatives to combat human trafficking.


The event, which was one of the projects under the Philippine Embassy Berne’s Gender and Development (GAD) Program and the third GAD event organized this year, served as an opportunity to share best practices and national initiatives. END