Category Archives: UNODC

UNODC Global Report on Trafficking in Persons 2012

UNODC released its 2012 Global Report on Trafficking in Persons on 10 December 2012.  The 98 page report “provides an overview of patterns and flows of trafficking in persons at global, regional and national levels, based on trafficking cases detected between 2007 and 2010 (or more recent). The report also includes a chapter on the worldwide response to trafficking in persons. The Country Profiles of the Global Report present a national level analysis for each of the 132 countries covered by this edition of the report.”

In regard to trafficked persons in Europe:

“Of the [trafficking] victims originating outside Europe, those from African countries are most prominently detected. About 18 per cent of the total number of victims detected in Western and Central Europe are African. Victims from West Africa, especially but not only Nigerians, comprise the vast majority. West Africans accounted for about 14 per cent of the total number of victims detected here….

In terms of trends, the proportion of West African victims among the total number of victims detected remained constant in Western and Central Europe during the reporting period. A detailed analysis at the country level, however, shows that a decreasing number of West African victims have been detected in a series of countries, while an increasing number have been detected in others. During the reporting period, fewer West African victims were detected in France and Italy, while they were increasingly detected in Austria and Germany. Similar contrasting trends can be noted among other destination countries in Western and Central Europe. The aggregated regional value is the result of compensation between opposite trends. This may indicate that the West African trafficking flow within the subregion may face some sort of displacement of destination.

Victims from the rest of sub-Saharan Africa accounted for a little more than 1 per cent of all victims detected in Western and Central Europe. As far as the North African victims are concerned, these were detected in or repatriated from 11 European countries, accounting for about 2.5 per cent of the victims detected during the reporting period, suggesting that these flows should not be underestimated.”

Click here full Report.

Click here for links to the Executive Summary and Country / Regional profiles.

Map 9, UNODC 2012 Global Report

 

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UNODC Issue Paper: Smuggling of Migrants by Sea

UNODC yesterday released an Issue Paper entitled “Smuggling of Migrants by Sea.” The paper, drafted by Ms Marika McAdam under the supervision of Ms Morgane Nicot (UNODC), is based largely on “answers received to questionnaires and discussions that took place in the context of an expert group meeting held in Vienna, Austria on the 13th to the 15th of September 2011.”

Excerpts from UNODC statement: “While the smuggling of migrants by sea accounts for only a small proportion of the total number of migrants smuggled worldwide, it accounts for the highest number of deaths among smuggled migrants. … The paper covers the international legal framework relating to the smuggling of migrants by sea, current responses to and challenges posed by such smuggling and recommendations to strengthen responses. … It is hoped that the practical experiences of responding to the smuggling of migrants by sea, addressed by the issue paper from the perspectives of countries of origin, countries of transit and countries of destination, will help other Member States in formulating their responses to suit their local contexts.”

Executive Summary: “Smuggling of migrants is defined by Article 3 of the Migrant Smuggling Protocol supplementing the United Nations Transnational Organized Crime Convention (UNTOC), as ‘…the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of the illegal entry of a person into a state party of which the person is not a national.’ The specific nature of the sea-based component of the smuggling journey resulted in a dedicated section on the issue in the Migrant Smuggling Protocol. While smuggling by sea accounts only for a small portion of overall migrant smuggling around the world, the particular dangers of irregular travel at sea make it a priority for response; though more migrant smuggling occurs by air, more deaths occur by sea.

The journey of the migrant smuggled by sea often starts a significant distance away from the coast of departure. Some journeys to the coast may take mere days, but others can take place over years during which the migrant must work en route to raise money for his passage. Arduous desert crossings and victimization by smugglers and other criminals en route mean that some do not survive overland journeys to the coast. Contrasted with these extreme experiences, economically empowered migrants can afford a higher level of smuggling service and may experience no particular hardship, simply travelling through various international airport hubs toward the coastal country from where their sea journey commences.

The type and size of vessel used to smuggle migrants by sea depends on the time, place and financial capacity of migrants undertaking the smuggling journey. In some countries, boats of only a handful of passengers are commonly intercepted by authorities, while in others vessels of several hundred people have been used. While voyages may be comfortable when conditions at sea are mild and the vessel is equipped with adequate food, water and sanitation, the journey is a harrowing one for the majority of migrants who report rough conditions, terrible cold and scarce food and water.

The nature of the crime and its relationship with smuggling of migrants by land and by air means that it is a successful crime type that yields high profits for smugglers with all the risks being borne by migrants. Indeed, migrant smuggling by sea can be understood as a criminal business, which is competitively run as such. Smuggling by sea is generally carried out by flexible criminal groups or individuals operating on the basis of repeated contractual arrangements, rather than by hierarchical organizations.

There are two methods used when vessels approach coasts of destination. One aims to reach land by evading detection by authorities, the other sets out to be detected and intercepted or rescued by authorities in territorial waters of destination coastal countries. In both situations, detecting smuggling vessels at sea is a key challenge for coastal states which may have limited resources and large search and rescue areas of responsibility.

Upon detecting vessels, the key challenge is to balance objectives with obligations at international law, including the Migrant Smuggling Protocol. Smugglers are generally well‐informed about states’ protection obligations and act to exploit them, instructing migrants what to do upon interception to increase their chances of gaining entry into and remaining in countries of destination. For instance, officials responsible for intercepting vessels at sea have been faced with situations of people sabotaging their own vessels to force authorities to carry out rescues. Suggestions made in respect of encountering migrant smuggling at sea include increased support of coastal states through joint patrols and provision of resources, and increased compliance with international legal standards and obligations in carrying out interceptions of smuggling vessels at sea.

While responding to the situation at hand and ensuring that persons on board are appropriately assisted, a key challenge is to seize evidentiary opportunities to investigate smuggling‐related crimes. The complex nature of migrant smuggling networks and their modus operandi means that smugglers cannot be identified purely by looking to smugglers who may be on board boats; the transnational criminal network itself must be traced from a smuggling vessel, back to the coast of embarkation, and from there back to countries of transit and origin. Suggestions made for improved investigation and prosecution of migrant smuggling by sea include harmonizing domestic legislation with the UNTOC and the Migrant Smuggling Protocol. Further it is suggested that sentences imposed for smuggling offences be publicized as a means of deterring would-be smugglers. Capacity building measures are also suggested so as to increase identification of smugglers on vessels, and to better link sea-based crimes with land-based smugglers.

Preventing migrant smuggling by sea requires states to balance their obligations in international law with their legitimate interests in protecting state sovereignty from violation by organized crime groups. But law enforcement efforts alone are not adequate to prevent migrant smuggling by sea; the Migrant Smuggling Protocol stresses that prevention efforts must address root causes that lead a person into the hands of smugglers in the first place. Suggestions made for preventing migrant smuggling at sea include raising awareness about the dangers of sea smuggling journeys and the criminality of smuggling. Suggestions are also made to raise awareness of those who influence political and policy decisions, so policies put in place protect state sovereignty, uphold international obligations, and are not vulnerable to exploitation by smugglers. Also emphasised is the responsibility of coastal states of departure to intercept smuggling vessels before they embark on sea journeys. Beyond this, comprehensive data collection, analysis and research are suggested to strengthen evidence-based responses.

Experts from countries of origin, transit and destination unanimously agree that the most essential ingredient for effective and comprehensive response to migrant smuggling by sea is strengthened international cooperation to remove areas of impunity for smugglers along smuggling routes. Suggestions made for cooperating in response to migrant smuggling at sea include aligning activities with the Migrant Smuggling Protocol and increasing the role of UNODC in facilitating cooperative response. The value of bilateral and regional cooperation arrangements is stressed, with emphasis on flexible cooperative networks for effective and efficient on-the-ground response. Regular coordination meetings and joint operations are suggested to improve strategic and operational interagency coordination, as is the empowerment of central designated authorities to address migrant smuggling by sea.

In short, while it is difficult to make generalizations about migrant smuggling by sea, two key points hold true around the world. Firstly, migrant smuggling by sea is the most dangerous type of smuggling for the migrants concerned, making it a priority concern for State response. Secondly, efforts to combat smuggling of migrants will be unsuccessful unless cooperation is strengthened not only between countries of sea departure and arrival, but also among the countries of origin, transit and destination along the entire smuggling route.”

Click here for Issue Paper.

Click here for UNODC statement.

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UNODC Report: The Role of Organized Crime in the Smuggling of Migrants from West Africa to the EU

UNODC released a report on 30 May: The Role of Organized Crime in the Smuggling of Migrants from West Africa to the European Union.  From the UNODC web page: “… The new report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) investigates the involvement of organized criminal groups in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa towards the European Union (EU).  The involvement of organized crime in the smuggling of migrants is a sensitive and controversial issue in West African countries, as the report discusses at various points. The publication contributes to better understand the underlying mechanisms and actors involved in this criminal process as a basis for policy reforms in countries affected.

Information in the report was compiled by a team of researchers from West Africa and Europe using both documentary studies and field research conducted in Mali, the Niger, Nigeria and Spain. …  UNODC, as guardian of the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, possesses specific expertise and experience that could be put at the service of all countries affected to support them in matters linked to prevention, legislation, operations or prosecution.”

From the Report’s Summary:  “The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), through the European Union-funded ‘Law enforcement capacity-building to prevent and combat smuggling of migrants in the ECOWAS region and Mauritania (Impact)’, undertook to investigate the role played by organized criminal groups in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe.

The present report is aimed primarily at decision makers, law enforcement and judicial officials, but also at a wider audience interested in irregular migration. It contributes to a better understanding of the underlying mechanisms and actors involved in this criminal process as a basis for policy reforms in the West African countries concerned.  This report was prepared through desk and field research, conducted in Mali, Morocco, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal and Spain. Interviews were conducted with over 200 people in Africa and Europe belonging to three main groups: migrants, national authorities and non-governmental organizations, and smugglers.

Four main findings can be mentioned:

• Transnational organized criminal groups are generally involved in the smuggling of migrants from West Africa to Europe. However, there are important differences among them in terms of specialization and professionalism. With regard to trafficking in persons and the smuggling of non-African irregular migrants, criminal groups are clearly well organized and structured, and keep close contacts with operatives in several countries. On the other hand, other would-be migrants in West Africa have to deal with loose networks that are not permanently structured. Various groups of actors usually collaborate for one particular operation, and there are no exclusive relationships between those criminal groups.

• Specialization and the building of transnational criminal networks usually come as a result of increased efficiency in border interdiction. Within West Africa, freedom of movement gives little incentive, if any, to engage in the smuggling of migrants. However, the situation changes when there are natural obstacles, such as the sea, or man-made obstacles, such as surveillance

• In most cases, smugglers are migrants themselves. Realizing that their knowledge acquired through (often painful) experience may be used by other migrants in exchange for remuneration, some migrants decide to enter the business of smuggling of migrants. They may then become specialized professional smugglers, or they use their knowledge to finance the completion of their journey to Europe.

• Irregular migrants generally do not see themselves as victims, and smugglers do not see themselves as criminals. A complex relationship exists between irregular migrants and smugglers. The latter have an interest in maintaining the flow and feeding youngsters with dreams of success. These dreams are also kept alive in some West African countries by families and circles where important social value is attached to those who decide to leave, as well as by those who have made it to Europe, be it legally or illegally, even though their situation in Europe is often worse than it was at home….”

Click here for Report.

Click here for article on UNDOC web page.

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Filed under Analysis, Eastern Atlantic, European Union, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Niger, Reports, Senegal, Spain, United Nations, UNODC

COE Seminar: Human rights dimensions of migration in Europe (Istanbul, 17-18 Feb)

Thomas Hammarberg, COE Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Turkish Chairmanship of the Council of Europe Committee of Ministers are holding a migration and human rights seminar in Istanbul, 17-18 February.  From the Commissioner’s web site:  The seminar “aims to exchange views on the most important discrepancies between European migration laws and practices and human rights standards, as well as on optimal ways to provide assistance to states in reflecting on and revisiting their migration policies.”

Three general topics will be addressed: Human rights challenges of migration in Europe, Unaccompanied migrant children, and Smuggling of migrants.  Scheduled speakers and participants include:

  • Karim Atassi, UNHCR Deputy Representative to Turkey;
  • Tina Acketoft, PACE Committee on Migration, Refugees and Population;
  • Emily Logan, Irish Ombudsman for Children;
  • Rebecca O’Donnell, Save the Children, Brussels;
  • Elisabet Fura, ECtHR Judge;
  • Martin Fowke, Unit on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants, UNODC;
  • Richard Ares Baumgartner, Frontex Senior External Relations Officer ;
  • Professor Dr. Nuray Ekşi, Chair of Private International Law Department at the Law Faculty of ĺstanbul Kültür University;
  • Professor Theodora Kostakopoulou;

Click here for draft programme.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Colloques / Conferences, Commissioner for Human Rights, Committee of Ministers, Council of Europe, European Court of Human Rights, Frontex, Turkey, UNHCR, UNODC

UNODC Publication: Smuggling of Migrants into, through and from North Africa

UNODC has issued a new publication entitled “Smuggling of Migrants into, through and from North Africa: A thematic review and annotated bibliography of recent publications.”  Most of the reviewed literature and data are from 2008 and earlier dates and therefore the publication does not include references to more recent events, e.g. the Italy-Libya migration agreement.  But it is a comprehensive and useful publication.  The 16 page Annotated Bibliography is a very good resource.

According to the UNODC web site, the publication “focuses primarily on the patterns and dynamics of migrant smuggling, as it concerns the North African region. Recognizing, however, that irregular migration and smuggling flows are transnational in nature, the review goes beyond North Africa, to also cover sub- Saharan African and European countries affected along the various smuggling routes.  The aim of the review is twofold: to describe major findings on smuggling of migrants; into, through and from North Africa, and to highlight the need for further research on specific issues that have not yet been studied.”

Table of Contents:

  • I. Introduction
  • II. Quantifying irregular migration and smuggling of migrants
  • III. Migrant smuggling routes
  • IV. Profiles and characteristics of smuggled migrants
  • V. Smuggler-migrant relationships
  • VI. Organizational structures of migrant-smuggling networks
  • VII. Modus operandi of migrant smuggling
  • VIII. Smuggling fees
  • IX. The human and social costs of smuggling
  • X. Summary of findings
  • XI. Annotated bibliography

Click here for the publication.

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Filed under Aegean Sea, Algeria, Analysis, Data / Stats, Eastern Atlantic, Egypt, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Malta, Mauritania, Mediterranean, Morocco, Reports, Senegal, Spain, Tunisia, Turkey, UNODC

UNODC Migrant Smuggling Issue Papers

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC) Anti-Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Unit has posted two Issue Papers on migrant smuggling on its web site: “A Short Introduction to Migrant Smuggling” and “Migrant Smuggling by Air.”  The occasional “Issue Papers [discuss] aspects of the crime of migrant smuggling and the global response to it. Issue Papers bring together expertise from practitioners around the world in an effort to support information sharing between those working in various capacities to prevent migrant smuggling, protect smuggled migrants and prosecute those who commit the crime.”

Click here for link to Issue Papers.

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