What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is the process by which people are transferred from one place, area or country to another. This could take place across jurisdictions and persons subject to this process are being moved against their will or under false pretences. Human trafficking seeks to exploit people and may be further sub-divided into sex exploitation where persons are forced or coerced to perform such acts or the involuntary recruitment of persons for forced labour.

The UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (2000) and the EU Directive 2011/36/EU on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings and Protecting its Victims defines the crime of trafficking in human beings as:

“the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs”


What is Migrant Smuggling?

Migrant smuggling is a dynamic and evolving phenomenon. The Smuggling of Migrants Protocol supplementing the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime defines the smuggling of migrants 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 or a permanent resident"

Migration decisions are primarily shaped and driven by push and pull factors. The push factors refer to conflict, civil unrest, political instability, poverty, poor economic conditions, persecution, unemployment, poverty and natural disasters. The pull factors refer to security, political stability, improved economic situation and employment opportunities. These factors have resulted in a huge increase in the numbers of migrants demanding the services of smugglers and because it is a high profit/ low risk business it is particularly attractive to Organised Crime Groups (OCGs).  The geographic position of the ‘origin’ country plays an important role too, since most migrants appear to take the shortest route to their aspired ‘destination’. In these cases, migrants take significant risks especially when making the crossing by sea. The increase of migrants using smugglers does not appear to have increased prices and therefore the market seems to remain relatively stable.


Understanding the difference.

It is important to understand the difference between human trafficking and migrant smuggling as they have different connotations. Smuggling differs from trafficking because it requires consent and has a transnational element. However, migrants who use the services of smugglers may initially do so with consent but this may not necessarily mean that they are not exploited or become victims of human trafficking during the route. A human is seen as a commodity and smugglers or traffickers will use them to make maximum profit.  

Financial intelligence is a valuable asset to tackle human trafficking or migrant smuggling. 

For further reading on financial flows from human trafficking please click on FATF report here.