Deals & Cases | 14 Apr 2020

Historic conviction of human trafficking in the construction business in Switzerland

On Thursday 9 April 2020, the First Instance Criminal Court of Geneva has found a contractor in the construction sector guilty of human trafficking and profiteering for commercial gain. The contractor was convicted for recruiting and exploiting workers from Eastern European countries on construction sites in Switzerland paying them between CHF 0.20 and CHF 6.50 per hour, making them work 9 -10 hours a day, six days a week, sometimes on Sundays, and housing them in precarious conditions. The accused thereby violated the National Convention applicable in the field of construction, a mandatory law providing for a minimum wage starting at approximately CHF 30.- per hour.

The Court also decided on the victims’ civil claims, and awarded them compensation for lost wages as well as satisfaction for the harm suffered.

This judgment is historic because it is the first application of Article 182 of the Criminal Code in the field of labour exploitation since its scope was extended in 2006 to include human trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation.

Froriep represented one of the victims who had filed a complaint. Read more on our blog soon.

Press articles (PDFS in French):

Tribune de Genève: Accusé de traite d’êtres humains, il nie, 1.4.2020
Tribune de Genève: Six ans et demi de prison requis contre l’entrepreneur, 2.4.2020
Tribune de Genève: “Vous êtes en train de me juger, j’ai honte pour vous!”, 3.4.2020

Xenia Rivkin Jérôme de Montmollin Alain Gros, LL.M.
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