10 Pages, Grade: 8,60/10,00
Illegal immigration is a current issue, which has received a lot of attention in the last years and is still hotly debated. The topic is omni present: I recently opened the paper and found an article at the margin of the page: Hundred refugees drowned in Moroccan waters. It briefly explained that a group of people boarded a boat in Senegal and planned to head to the Canaries to enter the European Union. Due to a storm, however, the boat shipwrecked, which resulted in 102 people missing and therefore assumed to be dead (Kleine Zeitung 2006). Incidents like this one can be read almost daily in the papers. The dream of a better life in the states of the European Union leads to the fact that thousands of people try to enter Europe. Since asylum requirements have been restricted in many states of the European Union, it has become more difficult to enter the European Union legally. Therefore, illegal immigrant smuggling and trafficking of human beings have moved onto the European agenda. A representative of the Council of Europe stated during a seminar in Athens 2006 that “human trafficking has reached epidemic proportions over the past decade with a global annual market of about 32 billion euros.” (Ross 2006). According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 people are illegally trafficked each year. (US State Department 2004). Procedures dealing with refugees seeking asylum in Europe vary among the EU’s members but are generally creeping with minimum chances to succeed. The only solution to realize the dream of a better life or even to escape persecution in the country of origin is to enter Europe illegally.
An entire business has evolved around this dream of a better life in Europe. People are willing to spend their complete savings in order to escape from their current situation and get into Europe, where they expect improved living conditions and protection from persecution. The more difficult it gets to obtain a residence permit or a refugee status, the quicker the numbers of people increase who try to make it into Europe by different (illegal) means. These means always include the border crossing of a EU member state and going into hiding later on. In order to get additional hints and information how to make it across the border with minimum chances to get caught, individuals or organized groups assist these desperate people, who have the determination to make it into Europe whatever it takes. Individuals and criminal organizations enrich themselves by assisting, organizing or even executing smuggling and trafficking of human beings to the European Union. It needs to be pointed out that smuggling and trafficking are two different crimes and in order to further discuss the topic, a separation between these two terms needs to be made.
According to Europol, illegal immigrant smuggling is defined as “activities intended deliberately to facilitate, for financial gain, the entry into, residence or employment in the territory of the member states of the European Union, contrary to the rules and conditions applicable in the Member States.” (Europol Convention 1995, Art. 2(2)). The United Nations Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (entry into force 28 January 2004) asserts that smuggling of migrants “shall mean 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.” (UN Protocol Smuggling 2000). One can conclude that smuggling is the assistance to illegal crossing of a transnational boarder and the unlawful entry into a country connected with the profit-making aspect thereof. Additionally, it can be said that there is generally consent of those being smuggled and the process of smuggling ends after the person being smuggled has entered the country of its destination.
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