University of Queensland launches international online database to deepen understanding of migrant smuggling

15 August 2013


The University of Queensland (UQ) today launched its new Migrant Smuggling Case Database, containing details of more than 100 documented cases of migrant smuggling prosecuted in five countries. 

The database aims to boost global efforts against migrant smuggling. It will help law enforcers, policymakers and researchers understand how migrant smuggling occurs and how national laws can combat this crime effectively. 

Professor Andreas Schloenhardt from the TC Beirne School of Law, coordinator of the UQ Migrant Smuggling Working Group, explains that "The purpose of the Migrant Smuggling Case Database is to strengthen the criminal justice response to migrant smuggling by providing up-to-date, public access to officially documented instances of migrant smuggling and by creating a platform for further research into thencharacteristics, investigation, and prosecution of this crime and the protection of the rights of smuggled migrants."

"Despite the frequent (and often hasty) media, political, and legislative attention that migrant smuggling continues to receive worldwide, the topic remains an under researched and poorly understood phenomenon," Professor Schloenhardt said.

"In Australia alone, over 300 people were convicted for 'people smuggling' offences between September 2008 and December 2012, but until now the insights from those cases and similar ones overseas have not been collated in a format that promotes a better understanding of the causes and characteristics of this crime."

Professor Schloenhardt added that "the database also serves to illustrate the implementation of the Smuggling of Migrants Protocol in a range of States Parties and document how countries around the world are affected by and experience migrant smuggling as sending, transit, and destination points."

"The database will be a platform for further research into the international and national frameworks that are set up to criminalise migrant smugglers. This is important for protecting the rights of smuggled migrants while best practice models for responding to the problem are developed," he said.

To this end, Professor Schloenhardt is collaborating with researchers at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Vienna, Austria, to examine migrant smuggling offences under domestic and international law, and, in a separate project, explore the involvement of minors in the smuggling of migrants.

The University of Queensland is a contributor to UNODC's Human Trafficking Case Law Database, launched in October

2011. The public online database provides details of more than 850 human trafficking cases from 74 jurisdictions across the globe.

In addition, UNODC is currently developing SHERLOC (Sharing Electronic Resources and Laws on Organized Crime), an online portal to facilitate the dissemination of information on organized crime. SHERLOC will not only incorporate the existing human trafficking case law database but will offer a comprehensive database of other organized crime cases, including migrant smuggling cases.

To access the Migrant Smuggling Case Database of the University of Queensland, please visit

Related Publications:

Human Trafficking Case Law Database

Further UNODC Tools and Publications

Related Information:

UNODC and Migrant Smuggling

UNODC News and Events

Subscribe to UNODC Human Trafficking (RSS Feed)


Back to Top