Human Trafficking vs Migrant Smuggling

Article by Amber Cammack, Houston’s Voice for the Missing

Many people confuse human trafficking with migrant smuggling. This is especially the case when there are reports about people who are trafficked across borders.

The fact is, both are crimes and they were both addressed in separate international instruments linked to the UN Convention on Transnational Organized Crime in 2000. In many ways, the 2 phenomenon share similarities. However, there are also material differences which help to distinguish the 2 offences.

Image result for human trafficking understanding

1. People smuggling involves migrants being facilitated with entry into a State through illegal means whereas trafficking must have the threat of or use of force, coercion, deception or other Means against a victim (except in the case of child victims).

2. People smuggling facilitates an individual’s illegal entry into the State whereas victims of trafficking can enter into the State both legally and illegally.

3. People smuggling must take place across international borders but there is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to take place – it can and does take place within national borders.

4. People smuggling, while often undertaken in dangerous or degrading conditions, involves migrants who have consented to the smuggling. Trafficking victims, have either never consented or, if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive actions of the traffickers.

5. People smuggling ends with the arrival of the migrants at their destination; unlike trafficking it does not involve the ongoing exploitation of victims.

6. People Smuggling is a crime against the sovereignty of a State and a violation against its immigration laws. Human Trafficking is a serious violation of human rights and an offence committed against the person of the trafficking victim.

7. People smuggling can lead to trafficking if, for example, the circumstances of the smuggled persons change during the journey or upon arrival in the destination State, leading to them becoming victims of violence and exploitation

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