Human smuggling in Africa: rethinking responses

2020-07-24

Although human smuggling has long roots in Africa’s history, the birth of the modern migrant smuggling industry as a multi-million global business is much more recent, as is the current perception of the migrant smuggler as a highly organised criminal figure. The majority of smugglers are low-level operators who often come from the same community as their clients, making the industry an important source of community resilience. But as countries adopt a criminal justice approach to counter human smuggling, the risk to smugglers escalates, and the market professionalises. As risk rises, so does the price – and the danger – for migrants.

About the author

Lucia Bird is a senior analyst at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime, and a practising lawyer. Previously she worked as legal and policy adviser to the Planning and Development Department of the Punjab Government, Pakistan, and the Ministry of Finance, Ghana working on governance, institutional reform and strengthening policy processes, contracting and legislative practices.

Photo © lkpro/Adobe Stock

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