Toolkit to Combat Smuggling of Migrants

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Aims and purpose of the Toolkit

How to use the Toolkit

Overview of Toolkit

Tool 1- Understanding the smuggling of migrants

Tool 2-  Actors and processes in the smuggling of migrants

Tool 3- International legal framework

Tool 4- Problem assessment and strategy development

Tool 5- Legislative framework

Tool 6- International criminal justice cooperation

Tool 7- Law enforcement and prosecution

Tool 8- Protection and assistance measures

Tool 9- Prevention of the smuggling of migrants

Tool 10- Capacity-building and training


Aims and purpose of the Toolkit

This Toolkit has been designed to assist countries to implement the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

Specifically, the Toolkit is intended to provide guidance, showcase promising practices and recommend resources in thematic areas addressed in the separate tools.The promising practices and recommended resources included in this Toolkit by no means comprise an exhaustive collection of successful, creative and innovative response to addressing migrant smuggling. However, in light of the urgent need for cooperative response to the phenomenon, examples have been included with the intention both of commending such initiatives and of demonstrating the range of resources available to assist users in undertaking the anti-smuggling efforts that may feature in the next edition of this Toolkit.

It is hoped that the guidance offered, the practices showcased and the resources recommended in this Toolkit may inspire and assist policymakers, law enforcers, judges, prosecutors, victim service providers and members of civil society in playing their role in the global effort to combat migrant smuggling.

How to use the Toolkit

Ultimately, this Toolkit is intended to be used in any way it will assist your work in preventing and combating migrant smuggling.

The Toolkit has been structured to serve a two-fold purpose:

Each Tool has been structured so that it can be consulted independently of the others; users who have an interest in a particular aspect of migrant smuggling can refer only to those Tools - or sections therein - that are of relevance to them. Cross-references have been provided throughout the Toolkit to direct users to other sections that they may find relevant.

Where possible, websites are indicated where users can either consult the complete text of documents referred to, or find further information on a given topic. Users who do not have access to the Internet are encouraged to contact either UNODC or the organization referenced to arrange to receive a hard copy of the relevant resource.

A list of the sections offered in respect of each theme is provided at the beginning of each Tool.

Annex 1 contains an overview of the content of each Tool.

Annex 2 contains the full text of the Migrant Smuggling Protocol supplementing the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention, with cross-references to sections of the Toolkit relevant to various provisions.

Annex 3 provides a working glossary of some of the key terms used throughout the Toolkit.

Annex 4 provides a feedback form, which we hope you will use to assist us in strengthening the next edition of this Toolkit.

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Overview of Toolkit

Tool 1. Understanding the smuggling of migrants

Understanding Migration

1.1        Migration and Development

1.2        Root causes of migration

1.3        Migration and Gender

1.4        Migration and the Environment

1.5        Migration and Health

1.6        Migration and the Global Financial Crisis

1.7        Migrant Smuggling as a migration phenomenon

Understanding Migrant Smuggling

1.8        What is migrant smuggling and related conduct?

1.9        What is not Migrant Smuggling?

1.10      Related concepts: Refugees and Asylum Seekers

1.11      Related Concept: Human Trafficking

1.12      Distinguishing between migrant smuggling and human trafficking

1.13      The impact of smuggling on smuggled migrants

1.14      Migrant Smuggling as a deadly criminal business

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Tool 2.   Actors and processes in the smuggling of migrants

2.1        Overview of Actors in their role in Migrant Smuggling

2.2        Profile of Smuggled Migrants

2.3        Types of Migrant Smuggling

2.4        The Role of Document Abuse

2.5        The role of corruption in Migrant Smuggling

2.6        Key financial transactions in migrant smuggling

2.7        Migrant Smuggling by Land

2.8        Smuggling of Migrants by Sea

2.9        Migrant Smuggling by Air

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Tool 3.   International legal framework

3.1        Introduction to international instruments against transnational organized crime

3.2        The relationship between the Transnational Organized Crime Convention and the Migrant Smuggling Protocol

3.3        Ratification of the Migrant Smuggling Protocol

3.4        Other relevant international instruments

3.5        Regional instruments


Tool 4.   Problem assessment and strategy development

Problem Assessment

4.1        General guidance for conducting assessments

4.2        Guidance on situation assessments

4.3        Guidance for conducting rapid needs assessments in conflict and post-conflict areas

4.4        Guidance for conducting assessments of the national response

4.5        Guidance on conducting legal framework assessments

4.6        Guidance for conducting criminal justice system assessments

Strategy Development

4.7        Guiding principles in developing responses to migrant smuggling

4.8        Developing a multi-agency approach to intervention

4.9        Developing inter-agency coordination mechanisms

Action Plans and Strategies

4.10      National Action plans and Strategies

4.11      Regional Action Plans and Strategies

4.12      Inter-regional and International Action plans and Strategies

Coordination Mechanisms and Institutions

4.13      National Coordination Mechanisms and Institutions

4.14      Regional Coordination Mechanisms and Institutions

4.15      Inter-regional and International Coordination Mechanisms and  Institutions

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Tool 5.   Legislative framework

5.1        Definition of Smuggling of Migrants

5.2        Criminalization of Smuggling of Migrants (Article 6(1))

5.3        Non-Criminalization (Article 5)

5.4        Other Offences related to Smuggling of Migrants

5.5        Distinguishing between human trafficking and migrant smuggling

5.6        The element of 'transnationality'

5.7        The element of 'organized criminal group'

5.8        Criminalization of Aggravating Circumstances, Article 6(3)

5.9        Liability of legal persons

5.10      Criminalizing the laundering of proceedings of migrant smuggling

5.11      Human Rights and Anti-Smuggling Legislation

5.12      Promising Practices - Legislation criminalizing migrant smuggling

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Tool 6.   International criminal justice cooperation

Overview of International Cooperation

6.1        The need to cooperate against migrant smuggling

6.2        Types of International cooperation

6.3        The legal basis for formal cooperation

6.4        Challenges of international cooperation

UNTOC Cooperation Mechanisms

6.5        Extradition

6.6        Content of an Extradition request - Checklist

6.7        Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA)

6.8        Content of a Mutual Legal Assistance request - Checklist

6.9        Joint Investigation Teams

Protocol Cooperation Mechanisms

6.10      An overview of International Cooperation in the Migrant Smuggling Protocol

6.11      Cooperation and Assistance in relation to migrant smuggling by sea

6.12      Border Cooperation

6.13      Cooperation in relation to Travel and Identity Documents

6.14      Cooperation in relation to Training and Technical assistance

6.15      Cooperation for return of smuggled migrants

6.16      Information Exchange

6.17      Other agreements or arrangements for cooperation

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Tool 7.   Law enforcement and prosecution

7.1        Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials

7.2        Principle considerations when investigating migrant smuggling

7.3        Snapshot of investigative methodologies

7.4        Reactive Investigation

7.5        Proactive Investigation

7.6        Disruptive Investigation

7.7        Financial Investigation

7.8        Seizure of assets and confiscation of proceeds of crime

7.9        Special investigative techniques

7.10      Migrant Smuggling Crime Scene investigations

7.11      Indicators of migrant smuggling and human trafficking

7.12      Border Control Measures

7.13      Travel and Identity Documents

7.14      Carrier Sanctions

7.15      Intelligence gathering and exchange

7.16      Guidance on prosecution of Migrant Smugglers

7.17      Seeking the collaboration of migrant smugglers and smuggled migrants

7.18      Protection of Witnesses

7.19      Ethnic, Cultural, Religious and Linguistic considerations in using witnesses

7.20      Special considerations relating to the protection of child witnesses

7.21      Responding to Smuggling of Migrants at Sea

7.22      Detention of smuggled migrants

7.23      Return of smuggled migrants

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Tool 8.    Protection and assistance measures

8.1        Obligations of States to Protect and Assist

8.2        Protection, assistance and human rights

8.3        Understanding the psychological impacts of migrant smuggling on the migrant

8.4        Rescue at Sea

8.5        Referral mechanisms

8.6        Health and Medical Assistance

8.7        Responses to the vulnerability to HIV/AIDS of smuggled migrants or persons vulnerable to being smuggled

8.8        Access to information and legal representation

8.9        Human Rights of Smuggled Migrants

8.10      Protection of smuggled migrants who are refugees

8.11      Non-refoulement

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Tool 9.    Prevention of the smuggling of migrants

9.1        Principles of prevention in the migrant smuggling protocol

9.2        Addressing Root Causes

9.3        Providing alternatives - regular migration

9.4        Creative approaches to combating migrant smuggling

9.5        Measures relating to security and control of documents

9.6        Raising awareness of potential smuggled migrants

9.7        Designing a communication strategy to raise awareness

9.8        Use of standardized data collection instruments

9.9        The role of the media in raising awareness

9.10      The role of the police in raising awareness

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Tool 10.  Capacity-building and training

10.1      Training and Technical Assistance

10.2      Anti-Migrant Smuggling Training

10.3      Migration, irregular migration and forced migration training

10.4      Specialized Law Enforcement Training

10.5      Cooperation in relation to Training and Technical assistance


1          Overview of Tools

2          Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants

3          Glossary of Terms

4          Feedback Form

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The Toolkit to Combat Smuggling of Migrants was made possible through funding received from the European Union.



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