Conference on Transnational Organized Crime in the Mediterranean Region

Joining Forces to Stem a Deadly Busines: Migrant Smuggling by Sea

26-29 January 2010, Athens, Greece

UNODC jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Greece, organized a regional conference on transnational organized crime - particularly migrant smugging by sea - from 26 to 29 January 2010 in Athens, Greece. The purpose of the conference was to strengthen and foster law enforcement cooperation and thereby enhance the capacities of authorities responsible for combating the smuggling of migrants by sea in the Mediterranean region.

55 participants from 17 countries and 5 regional and international organizations. The participants, 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, shared their experience and best practices on:

  • smuggling of migrants using maritime routes and effective counter measures,
  • witness protection,
  • targeted investigative techniques - developing intelligence-led response, and
  • strengthening institutional capacities to combat the smuggling of migrants

The participants recognised that migrant smuggling is a transnational crime that violates the sovereignty of source, transit and destination countries. Smugglers put the life, physical and emotional integrity of migrants at risks and violate their basic human rights. In addition to necessary law enforcement actions to address this inherently dangerous activity, responses to migrant smuggling by sea must aim to address the root causes of the phenomenon. Responses must be holistic and innovative, and compatible with poverty alleviation and development initiatives as well as awareness raising efforts.

With these concerns in mind, the participants agreed to promote the strengthening of cooperative networks against migrant smuggling among their colleagues in the criminal justice sector, both in their own countries and in countries of partnership.

 

The participants recommended that:

  • A comprehensive legal framework in compliance with international standards is established
  • An effective specialist investigation function within law enforcement agencies is in place
  • Front line law enforcement officials recognize the full extent of the crime of smuggling of migrants, their powers, and their responsibilities to provide an effective response
  • Information sharing mechanisms be put in place to enable effective cross-border, regional and international investigative cooperation on migrant smuggling cases
  • Systems and procedures be put in place to enable effective cross-border, regional and international investigative cooperation on migrant smuggling cases
  • Prosecutorial and judicial response be organized in a way that promotes effective prosecution and adjudication of migrant smuggling cases in accordance with international standards
  • Smuggled migrants be protected and fully supported as witnesses in the prosecution of the organizers and facilitators of migrant smuggling and related activities
  • Systems and procedures be put in place to enable effective international legal cooperation on smuggling of migrants
  • Systems and procedures be put in place to enable coordinated support to more effective criminal justice responses to smuggling of migrants

To read more about the deadly business of migrant smuggling, click here.

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