Strengthening the Criminal Justice System Response to Smuggling of Migrants in North Africa

Project Status: Completed

Project Duration: 30/11/2007 - 31/08/2012

Total Budget: US$ 2,705,000


European Commission






Ministries of Justice

Ministries of Interior

Relevant Civil Society Organisations

Target Groups


Key Officials



Law Enforcement Officials

Practitioners from Competent Ministries

Customs, Police and Immigration Officers

Outline and Objectives

Smuggling of migrants through and from Africa to Europe is a major and increasing problem. In recent years, the smuggling of migrants from Africa to Europe has increased dramatically. UNODC estimates that around 300,000 Africans illegally try to reach Europe every year. Various UNODC missions corroborated that the largest part of irregular migration from Africa to Europe is facilitated by organized crime. Organized crime networks use North African countries as important transit routes and embarkation points when smuggling migrants to Europe.

North African countries are also major countries of origin of irregular migrants heading towards Europe. The well-established criminal networks in this region further spur irregular migration and expose smuggled migrants to exploitation and deadly risks. In particular, children and women are extremely vulnerable to becoming victims of trafficking in persons. The criminals' profits contribute to fuelling corruption and empowering organized crime, thereby adversely affecting societies as a whole.

The objective of the project is to enhance the capacity of the criminal justice system to respond to the smuggling of migrants in Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, and Tunisia by establishing adequate legislative frameworks. Furthermore the project seeks to build the capacities of law enforcement, prosecution and the judiciary. It also aims to strengthen international and inter-regional cooperation and to foster prevention through raising awareness among relevant authorities and the general public.

Key Achievements

Improving evidence-based knowledge on the smuggling of migrants:

  1. Survey conducted focusing on the aspect of organized crime of smuggling of migrants, providing a better understanding of the modus operandi of the smuggling networks, as well as the level of awareness and motivations of the migrants.
  2. Results and findings of survey published and disseminated among relevant authorities and general public.

Establishing adequate legislative frameworks:

  1. The existing legislation in each country reviewed and necessary legislative amendments presented to national assemblies for adoption.
  2. The institutional capacity to apply the updated legislation upgraded.

Building the capacities of law enforcement, prosecution and the judiciary:

  1. Effective mechanisms and coherent plan of actions established in each country with the objective of ensuring coordination, cooperation and information exchange among law enforcement agencies and prosecution, prioritizing action and making the best use of available human and technical resources.
  2. Specialized law enforcement units established in each country; relevant staff from each country's law enforcement, border control, and immigration departments trained on smuggling of migrants issues and related law-enforcement techniques. Trainings included, among others: a) Pro-active and re-active investigation techniques of migrant smuggling with a view to increasing the apprehension of the involved perpetrators and in particular the dismantling of organized criminal groups; b) Improving criminal intelligence gathering, analysis, use and information exchange, in particular relating to the identification of organized criminal groups and their methods used; c) Improving procedures for detecting smuggled persons at conventional and non-conventional points of entry and exit; and d) Humane treatment of migrants and protection of their rights.
  3. Criminal intelligence database on smuggling of migrants established in each country for the purpose of effective information collection, analysis and exchange in order to promote intelligence-led investigation and prosecution of smuggling cases.

Strengthening international and inter-regional cooperation:

  1. Relevant staff of law enforcement and prosecution from each country trained on international law enforcement cooperation. The training included Mutual Legal Assistance procedures, and the effective use of informal and formal international law enforcement mechanisms including effective liaison with Europol and Interpol.
  2. A North African network of law-enforcement focal points established to facilitate cooperation and information exchange among the 5 target countries and with third-party countries.
  3. Procedures and mechanisms established for joint operative investigations among the target countries, possibly including selected EU countries.

Fostering prevention through raising awareness among relevant authorities and the general public:

  1. A survey regarding public attitude on the issue of smuggling of migrants and crime in general was conducted.
  2. Public awareness raising activities were held in cooperation with the media and NGOs to raise the awareness on smuggling of migrants.



This project is funded by the European Commission