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  • Trafficking vs Smuggling

Trafficking vs Smuggling

Trafficking of human beings (THB) and smuggling of migrants and asylum seekers are some of the most profitable and fastest growing areas of transnational organized crime. Often combined or confused with each other, THB and smuggling of migrants are substantially diverse.

THB can be considered as a form of modern slavery: it involves ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat […] or other forms of coercion, […] for the purpose of exploitation’ (Art. 3 of the “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children”, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime). In a nutshell, victims of trafficking are displaced and forced into sexual exploitation, labour, slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

On the other side, the smuggling of migrants and asylum seekers is based on a contractual relationship which occurs between the smuggler and the would-be migrant (hence, not properly a ‘victim’). Such a crime consist in ‘the procurement, in order to obtain a financial […] benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or a permanent resident’ (Art. 3 of the “Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air”, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime). Unlike THB, smuggling always traverses national boundaries and only occasionally the migrants, in the destination country, are set to work in the drug market, the sex market, as beggars or as black labour.