Is there such a thing as a victim of smuggling?

 

Is there such a thing as a victim of smuggling? No, and here’s why: First, let’s remind everyone what smuggling is:

“Smuggling of migrants” is defined 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 – United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (Smuggling of Migrants Protocol), supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.

So basically, smuggling is a violation of a country’s migration policy. It is an illegal border crossing organized by someone else – the smuggler – for a price. This means that the victim of the crime of smuggling, technically speaking, is the state, not the migrant who pays for this “service”.

Does this mean smuggling harms no one? Or that migrants who are smuggled do not suffer abuse and violence?

Absolutely not. We know that many migrants suffer assault, rape, extortion and a range of other abuses while being smuggled. Which means those migrants may be victims of other crimes, not of the smuggling itself.

Why do some actors continue to refer to “victims” of smuggling?

Sometimes, this terminology is used (despite not being technically correct), to recognize the high levels of vulnerability faced by some of the migrants who pay smugglers, which is abused by the smuggling rings. The fact that some migrants feel they have no other choice but to face the danger and risks of a smuggling process is sometimes related to inequalities, lack of opportunities, poverty, discrimination and other factors, which can be recognized in some cases as structural violence. Thus, the combination of the other crimes suffered by some smuggled migrants along the route together with the high levels of vulnerability that lead to them paying to be smuggled is sometimes highlighted through the use of the word “victim”.

If we’re not in a legal context, why not call them “victims” of smuggling? What’s the harm?

Because many smuggled migrants are victims of other crimes and need assistance, it is important to be clear in our terminology. It is essential to be able to find those smuggled migrants who are in need of support, assistance and protection, because they have suffered rape, extortion, or some other specific crime. If some anti-smuggling actors refer to all smuggled migrants as “victims” while others do not recognize that some migrants who use smugglers are victims of related crimes, neither group will effectively be able to screen and support those who actually need help.

Our goal must be to recognize the violence and abuse that takes place in the context of smuggling, and find ways to prevent and respond to it.

More resources on smuggling of migrants:

 

 

   About the author:

Rosilyne Borland is the IOM Senior Regional Thematic Specialist on Migrant Assistance at the Regional Office for Central America, North America, and the Caribbean. She has 14 years’ experience in international and has specialized on issues related to the human rights of migrants, particularly trafficking in persons and health, and return migration. Rosilyne holds a Master’s degree in International Human Development from the School of International service of American University. 

 


Strength in diversity: how inclusiveness contributes to disaster risk reduction

Strength in diversity: how inclusiveness contributes to disaster risk reduction
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Autor: Guest Contributor

Disasters due to natural hazards exact a heavy toll on the well-being and safety of persons, communities and countries. These disasters tend to be exacerbated by climate change, and are increasing in frequency and intensity, significantly impeding progress towards sustainable development, especially for most exposed countries.

It is critical to anticipate, plan for and reduce disaster risk to more effectively protect persons, communities and countries, their livelihoods, health, cultural heritage, socioeconomic assets and ecosystems, and thus strengthen their resilience.

According to a recent IOM study on human mobility and the climate agenda in the Americas, countries in the region have advanced in the integration of human mobility in national and regional policies and plans for disaster risk reduction, as well as in other related areas such as climate change, development planning, agricultural policy and housing.

However, in many cases the most vulnerable populations are excluded from contributing to disaster risk management policies and plans, thus suffering more disproportionately when disasters strike.

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which sets a series of guiding principles for States and other stakeholders in disaster risk reduction, stresses the importance of inclusive disaster risk management: “There has to be a broader and a more people-centered preventive approach to disaster risk. Disaster risk reduction practices need to be multi-hazard and multisectoral, inclusive and accessible in order to be efficient and effective.”

While Governments have a leading and regulatory role to play, they should engage with different groups including women, youth, persons with disabilities, migrants, indigenous peoples and other communities in the design and implementation of policies, plans and standards.

The framework notes the following opportunities:

  • Migrants contribute to the resilience of communities and societies, and their knowledge, skills and capacities can be useful in the design and implementation of disaster risk reduction;
  • Persons with disabilities and their organizations are critical in the assessment of disaster risk and in designing and implementing plans tailored to specific requirements, taking into consideration the principles of universal design;
  • Children and youth are agents of change and should be given the space to contribute to disaster risk reduction
  • Women and their participation are critical to effectively managing disaster risk and designing, resourcing and implementing gender-sensitive disaster risk reduction policies, plans and programmes; and adequate capacity building measures need to be taken to empower women for preparedness as well as to build their capacity to secure alternate means of livelihood in post-disaster situations;
  • Indigenous peoples, through their experience and traditional knowledge, provide an important contribution to the development and implementation of plans and mechanisms, including for early warning;
  • Older persons have years of knowledge, skills and wisdom, which are invaluable assets to reduce disaster risk, and they should be included in the design of policies, plans and mechanisms, including for early warning.

The inclusion of migrants and other communities can also contribute towards strengthening local capacities, advance an integrated agenda, strengthen local networks and expand the governance base of migration and climate change.

To turn these words into action, the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) developed a companion for implementing the Sendai Framework Target, offering practical guidance to help Government authorities integrate disaster displacement and other related forms of human mobility into disaster risk reduction strategies at local and regional levels.

Similarly, The Migrants In Countries In Crisis Initiative (MICIC), developed a series of Principles, Guidelines, and Practices to strengthen local, national, regional, and international action to better protect migrants in countries experiencing conflicts or natural disasters. The Guidelines provide recommendations on how migration can contribute to resilience, recovery, and the well-being of affected communities and societies. These include practices for implementation, such as migrant-to-migrant learning, regional and cross-border contingency plans, and crisis alert systems. 

While public and private sectors, civil society organizations, academia and scientific and research institutions, communities and businesses can all work more closely together to create opportunities for collaboration, the rights of vulnerable groups should always be contemplated as part of holistic strategies for disaster risk management and climate change adaptation.