An 'organized crime' perspective
The link between criminology and human smuggling and trafficking
In 1999 the Group of Eight Leading Industrialized Democracies (G8) committed their countries to 'the fight against the dark side of globalisation: trans-national organised crime which threatens to damage our societies and our economies'. Trafficking in persons was cited as one of these international crimes alongside terrorism, illegal firearms, and the trafficking of drugs.
Modern criminological definitions of 'organized crime' suggest that governments themselves play a role in bringing such crime into existence. As Schloenhardt (1999) states: 'The determination of which goods and services are available in the illegal market strictly depends on the relevant laws. Hence, it can be stated that it is the decisions of the legislative authorities that create illegal markets with economic opportunities for criminal organisations. The larger the markets in which transactions are proscribed by governments, the greater are the incentives for organised crime.'
A survey of 45 countries by the United Nations showed that criminal sentences for human trafficking and smuggling were comparable to other serious trafficking and counterfeiting offences. The position of trafficking and smuggling as transnational organized crime was formalized by the United Nations in 2000 at the Palermo Convention. Although it is long-standing approaches to human rights (e.g., the 'right to asylum') and migration management (e.g., increased 'border controls') which have contributed to this international illegal market in people, criminological factors are increasingly examined in isolation. There seems to be an acceptance that human smuggling and trafficking are long-term and somewhat inevitable consequences of globalization, market economies, and nation states.
- Collinson, S.,Globalisation and the Dynamics of International Migration: The Implications for the Refugee RegimeGlobalisation and the Dynamics of International Migration: The Implications for the Refugee Regime. Geneva: UNHCR, 1999. http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pub/wpapers/wpno1.pdf
- Peltzman, F.,The Economics of Organised CrimeThe Economics of Organised Crime. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
- Ruggiero, V., 'Trafficking in Human Beings: Slaves in Contemporary Europe'.International Journal of the Sociology of LawInternational Journal of the Sociology of Law, vol. 25, 1997.
- Ruggiero, V. et al. (eds),The New European CriminologyThe New European Criminology. Routledge, 1998.
- Schloenhardt, A., 'Organised Crime and the Business of Migrant Trafficking: An Economic Analysis Australian Institute of CriminologyOrganised Crime and the Business of Migrant Trafficking: An Economic Analysis'. Australian Institute of Criminology, AIC Occasional Seminar, Canberra, 10 November 1999.
International initiatives against organized crime
The UN Centre for International Crime Prevention (CICP) and the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNIRI) have together established the Global Programme against Trafficking in Human Beings (GPAT), with 2005 as the target year for achieving a significant decrease in the incidence of trafficking. Technical cooperation projects are currently being implemented in Brazil, Benin, the Czech Republic, Nigeria, the Philippines, Poland, the Slovak Republic, and Togo. From January 2001, the UN Office for Drug and Crime Control Prevention (ODCCP) has been running a public service announcement campaign on human trafficking around the world.
In 1996 the Organized Crime Branch of Interpol undertook a study of the routes, modus operandi, and organized crime groups involved in illegal immigration from any country to Western Europe. This research, known as Project Marco Polo, was published in 1997 and indicated that the largest number of 'illegal immigrants' coming to Western Europe between 1992 and 1997 were from Iraq, China, Pakistan, India, Nigeria, Rwanda, and Somalia. The report also highlighted several of the routes used in the smuggling of Chinese nationals. Interpol has emphasized the links between trafficking in human beings and other forms of organized crime, such as forced labour, organized begging, pick-pocketing, and prostitution.
- CICP UNIRI ODCCP http://www.odccp.org/multimedia.html
- GPAT http://www.odccp.org/trafficking_human_beings.html
- Interpol http://www.interpol.int
Regional and national approaches
Europol was first set up as the European Drugs Unit (EDU) in 1993, and acquired a mandate from the Council of the European Union to increase police cooperation on trafficking in human beings from December 1996. Since October 1998 Europol has been able to obtain, collate, and analyse information; to notify the competent authorities of member states without delay of any information and connections detected among criminal offences; to aid investigation with member states; and to maintain a biographical computerized system for collecting information.
Many national police forces now have anti-trafficking units, and face common challenges such as intelligence sharing between agencies and the implementation of witness protection schemes. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police have extensive experience of working on international smuggling networks during the 1990s, in particular those emanating from Sri Lanka.
- ECOWAS, Declaration on the Fight Against Trafficking in Persons, Economic Community of West African States, 2001 http://www.unodc.org/pdf/crime/trafficking/Declarationr_CEDEAO.pdf
- European Police Office (Europol) http://www.europol.eu.int
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) http://www.fbi.gov/
- Royal Canadian Mounted Police http://www.rcmp-grc.gc.ca/
- Kelly, L. and Regan, L.,Stopping Traffic: Exploring the Extent of and Responses to Trafficking in Women for Exploitation in the UKStopping Traffic: Exploring the Extent of and Responses to Trafficking in Women for Exploitation in the UK. Police Research Series, Paper 125, London: Home Office, 2000.