Prevention of Smuggling of Migrants

Nature and Scope

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Over the past decade and in the context of globalization, people move in increasing numbers for work, family, social, educational, cultural, business or personal safety concerns within their own countries and across borders. This leads to irregular migration manifesting in smuggling of migrants, which is a serious crime. Migrant smuggling usually takes place for financial or material gain. It is a form of illegal entry of an individual into a country of which he or she is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident. Criminal networks which smuggle people for financial gain control the flow of migrants. Irregular migrants enter foreign territories not only by risking their lives but are vulnerable to get caught in criminal activities such as drug and people smuggling, trafficking, money laundering and terrorism.

UNODC's response to smuggling of migrants in South Asia

According to the 2009 International Organization for Migration (IOM) report, of the total number of illegal migrants in 2008, 4.3 percent were from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region. Global instruments like the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, known as the Migrants Protocol entered into force in 2003. In line with the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on migrant smuggling, UNODC, aims to further strengthen the national and regional responses to prevent migrant smuggling and promote safe mobility in the region.

According to the 2009 International Organization for Migration (IOM) report, of the total number of illegal migrants in 2008, 4.3 percent were from the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) region.
Global instruments like the United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, known as the Migrants Protocol entered into force in 2003.
The Protocol aims to:
• prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants
• protect the rights of smuggled migrants, at investigation and prosecution
• promote cooperation between states

UNODC's response in South Asia has been to develop evidence based on migrant smuggling and promote cooperation between stakeholders to enable targeted policy responses. UNODC assists member states in implementing the provisions of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its specific protocol on migrant smuggling to bring national legislation in line with the these instruments and develop effective criminal justice responses for smuggling cases. One important aspect in addressing migrant smuggling is also identifying the gaps in knowledge, highlighting the need for research and analysis.

Accordingly, in 2007 the UNODC Regional Office for South Asia commissioned two research studies on the smuggling of migrants from (i) Punjab & Haryana and (ii) Tamil Nadu into Europe, and in particular to the United Kingdom.

On 11 March 2010, UNODC together with the Governments of Punjab and Haryana organised a workshop in Chandigarh where the Chief Secretary, Government of Punjab in Chandigarh launched the report titled 'Smuggling of migrants from India to Europe and in particular to the United Kingdom: A study on Punjab & Haryana'.

The 2009 study on Tamil Nadu reveals that:

• Almost one fourth of the total of 169 cases reported on irregular migration related to destination countries in Europe
• Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, is emerging as a hub of irregular migration, even for Sri Lankan nationals
• Out of the total 169 cases recorded at Chennai airport in 2007, 23 percent of the cases related to irregular migration of Sri Lankan nationals

The 2010 study on Punjab and Haryana reveals that:

• Every year more than 20,000 youths from Punjab, India attempt illegal migration
• Out of the 340, 276 and 196 cases related to illegal migration records examined at the Indira Gandhi International airport at New Delhi, India for the years 2005, 2006 and 2007 respectively, an average of 47 percent of the cases related to destination countries in Europe
• Agents charge more than US$ 50,000 for USA and Canada and, US$ 15,000 to US$ 30,000 for a destination country in Europe
• While deciding to deport 1195 Punjabi youths, detained for entering their country through illegal channels, 20 countries contacted the Regional Passport Officer (RPO), Government of India, to verify the nationality of these Punjabi youths. While Ukraine topped the list of detainees by arresting 282 persons, 111 youths from Punjab were in Turkey. Similarly, 52 persons in Saudi Arabia, 39 in Slovakia, 15 in Germany, 14 in Doha, 2 in Tehran were arrested in the recent past

UNODC developed a strategic paper on "Migration Flows: Sri Lanka", with an aim to provide evidence and facilitate sharing of a uniform understanding of migration flows of Sri Lankans. This information will feed into the response on cross-border irregular migration flows for the Bali Process. The Bali Process on People Smuggling, Human Trafficking and Related Transnational Crime has been an effective way to generate political will to respond to irregular migration in the Asia- Pacific region.

To address the issue of irregular migration, a consultation on ' promoting safe mobility and preventing irregular migration' with European Union (EU) member states, was organized by UNODC and the Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs, Government of India.

Learn more on the UNODC supported publications on prevention of smuggling of migrants

Smuggling of migrants from India to Europe in particular the UK: A study on Tamil Nadu

Smuggling of migrants from Punjab/Haryana in India to Europe, particularly the UK