This workshop would not have been possible without the financial support of the European Union

Workshop on International Criminal Justice Cooperation in Response to Migrant Smuggling

6 - 7 July 2009, Cairo, Egypt

From 6 to 7 of July, law enforcers and prosecutors from several countries in North Africa and Europe met to discuss criminal justice cooperation in response to the challenges of combating migrant smuggling. This meeting was made possible through funding received from the European Union.

Background and Purpose

Smuggling of migrants occurs transnationally, making international cooperation an essential prerequisite to prevent and combat this crime. As the sum of migrant smugglers form closely meshed networks transcending national borders on various levels of geographical scope, so too must a criminal justice response be coordinated among States in order to be effective.

Article 1 of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime states that the purpose of the Convention is to promote cooperation to prevent and combat transnational organized crime more effectively. Further to this, article 2 of the Migrant Smuggling Protocol reiterates its purpose of promoting cooperation to prevent and combat migrant smuggling, while protecting the rights of smuggled migrants.

With the fulfilment of these UNTOC and Protocol purposes in mind, the workshop aimed to depict instruments that can facilitate international cooperation in criminal justice matters in response to migrant smuggling and exchange of information on criminal trends on migrants smuggling and law enforcement responses to it. In so doing, the workshop provided a platform to facilitate mutual learning from each other and to exchange views to explore how international cooperation can be used in an effective way in order to support national efforts in disrupting migrant smuggling, dismantling criminal networks as well as investigating, prosecuting and securing the conviction of perpetrators.

The workshop brought together experienced practitioners from law enforcement and prosecution working in the field of investigating and prosecution of migrant smuggling and international cooperation in criminal justice matters. Participants attended from Egypt, France, Italy, Libya, Morocco, the Netherlands, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Kingdom, as well as Europol, Interpol and UNODC.

With regard to the instruments that can facilitate international cooperation in criminal justice matters in response to migrant smuggling, the workshop discussed existing tools and mechanisms to facilitate international cooperation in criminal justice matters such as the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementing Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, the role of Interpol and Europol and Mutual Legal Assistance. With regard to exchanging information on criminal trends on migrant smuggling and law enforcement responses to it, the workshop reviewed trends in the smuggling of migrants, perpetrators and criminal groups involved, including information about their modus operandi and smuggling routes. Experiences and lessons learnt in investigating and prosecution migrant smugglers and securing their conviction where shared.

Participants at the workshop agreed on a recommendation statement on which to act as a result of discussions.

Expert practitioners meet in Cairo to strengthen cooperation in criminal justice reponse to migrant smuggling

Recommendation statement adopted by workshop participants

The socio-economic roots of the phenomenon of migrant smuggling have to be considered when formulating a comprehensive approach in response to the crime. International cooperation in criminal matters is an essential prerequisite to effectively combat migrant smuggling. The cross-border nature of the crime means that smuggled migrants and offenders are often nationals of other jurisdictions. However, many transnational migrant smuggling cases are not investigated using available international cooperation mechanisms. As a consequence, smugglers continue their activities undisturbed, simply change routes to continue their crimes, or only the lower-level criminals are caught, without dismantling the criminal organisations behind them.

There is need to complement border controls by increasing law enforcement efforts to dismantle the smuggling of migrants networks in the countries of origin and transit and through enhanced international law enforcement cooperation between countries of destination, transit and origin. There is also a need for prosecutors and the judiciary to cooperate across borders to ensure that migrant smugglers are brought to justice.

Unless the organized crime groups who smuggle migrants are dismantled, migrant smugglers will continue to operate and quickly adapt their methods and routes to changing circumstances such as improved border controls or changes in the visa regimes.

Regional and inter-regional approaches must be fostered as a priority. Without strong cooperation between countries of destination, transit and origin within and between regions, migrant smuggling will continue across borders without meeting with a strong cross-border challenge.  In many instances, national and bilateral responses to migrant smuggling have only resulted in displacement of routes to other countries.

The Workshop adopted the following recommendations:

Full use of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) and its Additional Protocols as a basis for international cooperation in criminal matters

National capacity building and training

Strengthening regional cooperation

Strengthening inter-regional cooperation

Information sharing

 

This workshop would not have been possible without the financial support of the European Union

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