9 keys for effective Migration Governance in the Caribbean

Migratory Governance - Caribbean states


The Caribbean has witnessed numerous waves of migration throughout history. Region wide economic stagnation; limited job opportunities; natural disasters such as floods, volcanic eruptions, hurricanes and earthquakes; have been important push and pull factors in the Caribbean, able to cause large and unforeseen migration flows.

Even though governments and international organizations such as the Caribbean Migration Consultations (CMC), the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), have contributed to the promotion of regular and safe migration, the needs for capacity-building, knowledge -sharing and data collection on migration ̶  just to name just a few ̶   remain a challenge. The region shares several common migration issues, therefore, the success in overcoming these problems will depend on government’s consistency in working in collaboration to improve such challenges in the Caribbean region.

To assist in this endeavor and with the clear purpose of empowering governments as well as their existing migration governance capacities and policies, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), under the PACTA project and funded by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration; developed the Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean. A report that presents a background of ten countries of the region, through concrete evidence and data, combined with the inputs of regional stakeholders to provide a larger perspective on opportunities for improvement in regional governance and cooperation. Furthermore, it offers actionable recommendations on how to best minimize the potential risks of migration, while maximizing its economic and development benefits.

The study revealed that in order to implement effective migration governance practices in these ten countries of the region, governments need to:

  1. Collect data on the growing trends of intraregional migration, as well as data on migrant populations, both regular and irregular.
  2. Implement a comprehensive migration approach, aligned with international standards and national development strategies.
  3. Strengthen coastal surveillance to manage irregular migration appropriately, improving application of strategies in the areas of border management, national security and the protection of migrants in vulnerable situations.
  4. Collect data on the impact of mobility regimes and programs to obtain citizenship through investment schemes. 
  5. Enhance collective action on disaster management and development of more comprehensive mechanisms to mitigate and manage the consequences of environmental hazards.
  6. Strengthen legislation and protocols related to the fight against trafficking and improving the capacity to generate effective responses, as none of the ten countries has yet ratified all the nine-core international human rights treaties. Countries would benefit from adjusting their legislation to consistently reflect the core principles of international instruments, and from strengthening regional coordination efforts, including the standardization of protocols and practices to address various migration-related issues.  
  7. Adopt mechanisms to guarantee migrants' access to medical care and improvement of detection protocols in Border Crossing Points (BCPs).
  8. Collect data on circular migration (repetitive and temporal migration between two places) and labour mobility, as well as the effect of migration on labour supply and demand.
  9. Review of legislation to guarantee universal access to education for migrant children of compulsory school age.

In the process of addressing these gaps, it is important that governments, not only make efforts to improve governance systems for migration, but also that the international community recognizes the complexities of the subregion and understands the need to adapt the guidelines and frameworks to the realities of each of these States. The IOM looks forward to working with the Caribbean region to address capacity limitations and realize the potential highlighted in this report.

The Regional Report on Migration Governance in the Island States of the Commonwealth Caribbean is now published in the Caribbean Migration portal of the CMC in the following link: http://cpmg.iom.int/migration-data-and-analysis 

For further information please contact Brendan Tarnay, CMC Project Coordinator: btarnay@iom.int / Estela Aragón, Research Coordinator: earagon@iom.int


Sofía Cortes is the Digital Content Manager for the Caribbean Migration Consultations initiative. She has more than 5 years of experience in the areas of communication and marketing. Previously she has worked for advertising agencies such as Havas Tribu and for United Nations organizations such as University for Peace, as Communications Officer. She is a public relations graduate of the Universidad Latina de Costa Rica and candidate for a Master's Degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Marketing from the Latin American University of Science and Technology.

Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and white slave trafficking, what's the difference?

Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons, and white slave trafficking, what's the difference?
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

Migrant smuggling, trafficking in persons and even white slave trafficking: we might hear these expressions being used as synonyms, when in reality they have very different meanings. Let's start by eliminating one, the term "white slave trafficking".

The term "white slave trafficking" was used at different times in history, but today it is completely outdated, as it only refers to the sexual exploitation of "white-skinned women". The problem with using this expression is that it can imply that only women with certain characteristics can be victims of trafficking (a racist concept), and that the only end of trafficking is sexual exploitation, when the reality is much more complex. This brings us to the second and correct concept, "trafficking in persons".

"Trafficking in persons" refers to all those forms of exploitation for the benefit of a third party, such as debt bondage, child labor, forced labor, forced marriage, forced begging and the removal of organs. In international law, the term is left somewhat open depending on the context, since new forms appear periodically in which one person or group of people forces another to take actions against their will to achieve some benefit. It is a form of modern slavery and can occur within a country or internationally.

According to the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, there are three elements that must be met to characterize a crime as trafficking in persons:

  • The action: That is, the crime carried out by organized networks, where it is evident that actions were taken with the intention of facilitating the exploitation of another person, such as capturing, sending or receiving them.
  • The means: The means is how the criminals manage to carry out the trafficking, for example, through deceit and lies, force, violence, abuse of the other person's vulnerability, etc.
  • Exploitation: In itself, the abuse of another person for the benefit of a third party.

Each of these three elements is made up of many possible actions, but if an action corresponding to each element is carried out, we are dealing with a case of trafficking in persons.

Finally, there is the term "migrant smuggling," which refers to supporting the illegal transfer of a person across border, as "coyotes" do, for exmple. The big difference between "smuggling" and "trafficking" is that traffic violates the laws of the State that is illegally entered, while trafficking violates the human rights of a person. The crime of migrant smuggling is characterized by:

  • The facilitation of illegal entry of a person to another country.
  • The creation or supply of a false identity document or passport.
  • The authorization, by illegal means, of the permanent stay of a non-national or non-resident.

It is clear that both actions, smuggling and trafficking, are often related, since smuggling places people in situations of vulnerability that can trigger a trafficking process. The fact that both crimes are included in the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (also known as the Palermo Convention or Protocol) can also lead to confusion and leads to the belief that they are the same, but they are not.

To learn more about the dangers and characteristics of the crime of human trafficking, we recommend visiting the IOMX campaign.