Human Trafficking vs. Smuggling

Human trafficking does not require someone to enter a country illegally; whereas human smuggling, migrant smuggling and illegal migration does.

Human trafficking can happen within a country as it is defined as the recruitment, harbouring or transportation of an individual or group of people for exploitation; whereas, human smuggling must involve border crossing.

Human traffickers make a profit from exploitation; whereas, perpetrators of human smuggling profit from the fees for movement services. It is important to note here that for human trafficking to be confirmed (in legal terms) the intent of exploitation must be proven.

The Global Alliance Against Trafficking in Women explains that “a person’s migration story can include both smuggling and trafficking, experienced at the same time or at different times”.

A person can initially pay to be illegally transported across borders but may find themselves coerced into exploitation.

As Emily Kenway writes, “rather than thinking of trafficking as a crime of abduction or unwilling movement, it’s more accurate to think of it as migration gone wrong.”

The real issue is that often, government policies are making migratory circumstances harsher and thus, more dangerous.

Globally, states have generally failed to provide people with safe migration routes which have created and increased the market for human smuggling, illegal immigration and human trafficking.

Therefore, policies that are aiming to tackle human trafficking, should be around creating safer migration routes. However, currently, politicians are deploying the anti-trafficking rhetoric to justify their hard border policies and to legitimise anti-immigration attitudes, thereby fuelling human trafficking.