Issue Paper: A Short Introduction to Migrant Smuggling

This Issue Paper offers a brief overview of the crime of migrant smuggling. It explores how the crime of migrant smuggling is committed, the roles played by individual criminal actors in the process ,and explains the difference between migrant smuggling and the distinct but related crime of human trafficking.

Issue Paper: Migrant Smuggling by Air

This Issue Paper explores the particular modus operandi of smuggling migrants by air and touches upon the various challenges involved in addressing this issue. The paper also offers some recommendations about strengthening and coordinating response to this issue.

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Cambodia participates in regional data collection and analysis on migrant smuggling

Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 9 April 2010 - On 8 April 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Mr. Sar Kheng, Minister of the Interior of the Royal Government of Cambodia, and Mr. Gary Lewis, UNODC Representative for East Asia and the Pacific, signed a letter of agreement on Cambodia's participation in the regional project entitled Smuggling of Migrants: Establishment and Operation of a Coordination and Analysis Unit for East Asia and the Pacific.

The regional project, funded by the Government of Australia, aims to establish and make operational a regional system and database to generate, manage, analyze, report und use information on migrant smuggling.

The project is executed by UNODC. As the guardian of the Protocol against Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (Migrant Smuggling Protocol) supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, UNODC is mandated to assist states in developing an effective criminal justice response to migrant smuggling. A crucial prerequisite when building state capacities in response to migrant smuggling is fostering evidence-based knowledge on the crime challenge to enable informed policy development and effective implementation.

In addressing the gathering at this inauguration ceremony, Mr. Lewis pointed out that migrant smuggling "is a big business, generating huge profits on the backs of the migrants' dreams and hopes - whatever the motivation is, whatever the factors are that make a person decide to take the risk and head to another country." He added that "while the profits are high, the criminals - in particular the organizers who drive the business - face few risks of detection or punishment… It's also a business that makes migrants vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking - either during the smuggling process or as a result of it."

UNODC's work in promoting global adherence to and assisting Member States in implementing the Migrant Smuggling Protocol is anchored on the understanding that law enforcement policies alone cannot prevent the smuggling of migrants. It considers that law enforcement policies must be embedded in a wider migration and development policy framework. Strengthening international cooperation in criminal justice matters is central to complement border control measures by increasing the focus of law enforcement efforts on investigating and prosecuting migrant smugglers. The challenge is to dismantle the smuggling networks and address the conditions in which they flourish.

Where not part of a holistic approach, increased border controls may simply have the result of diverting migrant smuggling routes elsewhere, and of increasing the demand for more risky services. When developing policies addressing migrant smuggling upholding human rights and protecting the safety and lives of migrants must be pivotal.

Related websites:

Upcoming: UNODC Model Law against the Smuggling of Migrants. More UNODC publications can be found at the Tools and Publications website.