Panel #1: Smuggling of migrants

Statement held in Vienna, 4 - 5 September 2017.

Norway agrees that the GCM in the area of migrant smuggling should build on existing international instruments, namely the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime. The supplementing protocol against smuggling of migrants imposes on states an obligation to adopt legislation and other measures to establish migrant smuggling as a criminal offence. In Norway, the police addresses migrant smuggling as part of the persecution of organized international crime.

In a state perspective, migrant smuggling constitutes a circumvention of migration regulation. As such, it is detrimental to all efforts to create a safe, orderly and regular migration. It reduces the development potential of migration. Furthermore, wealth in the hands of criminal gangs engaged in migrants smuggling is damaging to governments’ efforts to exert authority at their borders and at their territories.  Stability and security are at risk as extortion and taxation of smuggling is financing terror and conflict in transit countries. Wide spread corruption in countries of origin and transit makes smuggling possible and a lucrative business.

While trying to combat the smuggling business we must not lose sight of possible protection needs of smuggled migrants. First, the non-refoulment principle must be fully respected. Access to basic social services and to status determination procedures should be ensured for those claiming needs for international protection.

In line with the provisions of the Palermo Convention, we expect state parties to facilitate and accept the return of own smuggled nationals if they fail to meet residency requirements of another state.

Over the last few years, many thousand smuggled migrants have lost their lives in the Mediterranean. That is intolerable. Norwegian rescue ships have saved the lives of many migrants attempting to cross the Mediterranean in small dangerous vessels. Countries on both sides of the sea should co-operate and join forces to combat the business of migrant smuggling. Efforts are under way, and they seem to bear fruit.

Law enforcement officers on board the ships gather intelligence about possible organisers. We would like to underline the importance that all national law enforcement agencies report cases of migrant smuggling to national contact points for further dissemination.

Norway participates in efforts by Europol in fighting ruthless migrant smuggling networks. The European Migrant Smuggling Centre (EMSC) formed in 2016 is a valuable tool, as well as the analytical projects in this area. We wish to underline that in most countries law enforcement agencies at the national level will need analytical and intelligence support from international partner institutions in order to prioritize which networks to investigate.

The role of law enforcement in fighting illegal smuggling networks is important. Equally important, as a preventive measure, is the need to show potential irregular migrants that paying networks large sums of money to be smuggled to a country where you do not have the right to stay, does not pay off.