The migrant crisis in Europe is ever increasing and clearly not going to go away.
And to make matters worse, there seems to be a confusion of terms as “smuggler” and “trafficker” is used interchangeably.
In fact, one boat captain whose boat overturned leading to the deaths of many on board, was charged with trafficking. Perhaps it was the death toll of the overcrowded boat that prompted such a harsh sentencing, but this kind of legal action doesn’t help the cause against human trafficking. Trafficking should be treated like trafficking and smuggling should be treated like smuggling.
There are three major differences between these two concepts:
- Exploitation – “Smugglers are paid by people to bring them across borders.”
- Consent – “Migrants usually consent to being smuggled.”
- Borders – “Smuggling always happens across international borders.”
Smuggling and trafficking does have some overlaps and it is easy to see how smuggling can quickly turn into trafficking, but it is not the same thing and should not be considered equal.
Moreover, it is important for lawmakers and world leaders to understand these differences before taking action and pushing forth legislation to deal with it. Both immigration and trafficking have become hot button issues in the United States and Europe, and if we’re not careful, we’ll mix the two and create an entirely impossible situation.