Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking

Szablewska, Natalia (2022). Human Smuggling and Human Trafficking. In: Sayapin, Sergey; Atadjanov, Rustam; Kadam, Umesh; Kemp, Gerhard; Zambrana-Tévar, Nicolás and Quénivet, Noëlle eds. International Conflict and Security Law: A Research Handbook. The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, pp. 1181–1206.



Human smuggling and human trafficking are part of mixed migration flows, which are defined as complex population movements concerning both regular (i.e. documented) and irregular (i.e. undocumented) migrants. Even though migration rates have been steady since the 1990s, the forced displacement of people is on the rise worldwide. There are often similarities between the trafficking and smuggling of people, but the profiles of the persons affected and, consequently, the legal responses differ. It is important therefore to distinguish, in law and in practice, between human smuggling and trafficking, even though both are considered a form of organised crime. Yet, despite their different legal status, they are often conflated, including by law enforcement agencies, courts and support service providers, which leads to unsatisfactory protection and services being offered to trafficked and smuggled persons who find themselves in situations of vulnerability. This chapter provides an overview of the legal framework on migrant smuggling, with a particular focus on maritime migrant smuggling, followed by human trafficking, which is further considered in the context of modern slavery legislation. The final section examines human trafficking and human smuggling in conflict and the corresponding jurisprudential developments in international criminal law.

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