Migrant smuggling and ICT: Research advances, prospects and challenges

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This chapter explores the question of the role of ICT (Information and CommunicationsTechnology) in human smuggling and provides a critical appreciation of the emergingresearch literature around it. There is no lack of alarmism or even sensationalism in representationsof human smuggling as a form of transnational organised crime in official and, particularly,media accounts of the phenomenon. Cross-border or transnational organised crime hasemerged as a key policy area in our era of globalisation, one that is backed up by a new internationalpolicy regime featuring international instruments of major significance, such as the2000 UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) (United Nations, 2004).These, in turn, have engendered a new law enforcement alertness, infrastructure, and capacityto monitor and address the issue at national, regional, and global level. In the past 25 years orso, there has emerged a substantial body of knowledge exploring and documenting the possiblethreats and real harms involved in the business of human smuggling (see McAuliffe andLaczko, 2016), and it continues to grow in the context of the booming of irregular migrationflows from Asia and Africa to Europe. Much of the literature focuses on the link between thepredatory intention and practices of human smugglers and the exposure of irregular migrantsto conditions of vulnerability and abuse, up to and including the possibility of death en route(see, e.g., Clarke-Billings, 2017). Official accounts typically emphasise the role of members ofcriminal networks in irregular migration (see Europol and Interpol, 2016) as well as the gravityof the threat this connection engenders. Since the beginning of 2014, IOM’s Missing MigrantsProject has reported the deaths of over 35,000 people, noting that even this figure should betreated as ‘indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of thetrue number of deaths across time or geography’ (IOM, 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on International Migration and Digital Technology
EditorsMarie McAuliffe
Place of PublicationCheltenham
PublisherEdward Elgar
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781839100611
ISBN (Print)9781839100604
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021

Publication series

NameElgar Handbooks in Migration
PublisherEdward Elgar


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