Students of Queen Mary University of London help UNODC in expanding the knowledge basis on human trafficking and migrant smuggling


The global pandemic of COVID-19 and the extraordinary measures that followed were far from mind, when UNODC Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section (UNODC/HTMSS) launched this years’ online volunteer placement programme with Queen Mary University of London. A programme that proved resilient in times of crisis and disruption, fostering a network of external contributors that help expand our knowledge basis on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling.

On 9 April 2020, UNODC/HTMSS concludes a twelve weeks volunteer placement programme of four postgraduate students studying Immigration & Asylum Law Through Practice, taught by Professor Violeta Moreno-Lax. In cooperation with Professor Moreno-Lax, these four students functioned as external contributors to the Knowledge Portals of Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants. The two Portals, powered by SHERLOC, are a unique global resource of case-law, legislation and bibliographical references from more than 100 jurisdictions around the world. The plethora of information contained in the Portals helps the work of criminal justice practitioners globally and forms the basis of analytical tools and publications of UNODC.

The students turned a virtual collaboration into a meaningful and impactful exercise. They did not just conduct desk research but reached out to judicial institutions, criminal justice practitioners and their broader networks to gather important case-law and other relevant information. They worked with UNODC to review cases, prepare templates and further foster contacts with practitioners.

As a result of their work, criminal justice practitioners have access to cases from more jurisdictions and they can exchange information on judicial practices and how national courts apply provisions on trafficking in persons and migrant smuggling. We are closing the programme not by saying goodbye, but rather by welcoming the amazing four to our bigger family of contributors and collaborators. In them, we see future of criminal justice practitioners, magistrates, jurists and policy makers. Angeli, Dylan, Laavanya and Ramy, thank you for making a difference.