Is people smuggling the same as human trafficking?
No. While people smuggling and human trafficking are linked there are fundamental differences between the two.
- People smuggling involves migrants being facilitated with entry into a State through illegal means whereas trafficking must have the threat of or use of force, coercion or deception against a victim.
- People smuggling facilitates an individual’s illegal entry into the State whereas victims of trafficking can enter into the State both legally and illegally.
- People smuggling must take place across international borders but there is no requirement that a person must have crossed a border for trafficking to take place – it can and does take place within national borders.
- People smuggling, while often undertaken in dangerous or degrading conditions, involves migrants who have consented to the smuggling. Trafficking victims, have either never consented or, if they initially consented, that consent has been rendered meaningless by the coercive, deceptive or abusive actions of the traffickers.
- People smuggling ends with the arrival of the migrants at their destination; unlike trafficking it does not involve the ongoing exploitation of victims.
- People smuggling can lead to trafficking if, for example, the circumstances of the smuggled persons change during the journey or on arrival in the State leading to them becoming victims of violence and exploitation.
Image source: International Organisation for Migration (IOM)
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