15 August 2013

A new database containing details of prosecutions and documented cases developed by The University of Queensland (UQ) Migrant Smuggling Working Group aims to boost global efforts against migrant smuggling.

Launched today with more than 100 cases from five countries—with further jurisdictions and many more cases to follow—the Migrant Smuggling Case Database aims to help law enforcers, policymakers and researchers understand how migrant smuggling works and how national laws can be used to combat this crime effectively.

Professor Andreas Schloenhardt from the TC Beirne School of Law, coordinator of the UQ Migrant Smuggling Working Group, said the database would strengthen responses to migrant smuggling in sending, transit, and destination countries worldwide, and improve the capacity to suppress and prevent the problem in the medium and long term.

“Despite the frequent (and often hasty) media, political, and legislative attention that migrant smuggling continues to receive worldwide, the topic remains an under-researched and poorly understood phenomenon,” Professor Schloenhardt said.

“In Australia alone, over 300 people were convicted for ‘people smuggling’ offences between September 2008 and December 2012, but until now the insights from those cases and similar ones overseas have not been collated in a format that promotes a better understanding of the causes and characteristics of this crime.”

Professor Schloenhardt said the database aims to reveal the realities of migrant smuggling, analyse the criminal justice response to it, and increase the visibility of successful prosecutions.

“The database will be a platform for further research into the international and national frameworks that are set up to criminalise migrant smugglers. This is important for protecting the rights of smuggled migrants while best practice models for responding to the problem are developed,” he said.

To this end, Professor Schloenhardt is collaborating with researchers at the Department of Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Vienna, Austria, to examine migrant smuggling offences under domestic and international law, and, in a separate project, explore the involvement of minors in the smuggling of migrants.

The development of the Migrant Smuggling Case Database was supported by a UQ Major Equipment and Infrastructure (MEI) Grant.

To access the database, please visit www.law.uq.edu.au/som-database

Media: Professor Adrian Schloenhardt 07 3365 6191, a.schloenhardt@law.uq.edu.au
UQ Communications (07 3365 7887)