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ga - What's the difference between trafficking and smuggling?

People smuggling involves illegal immigrants making an illegal entry into Ireland. Illegal immigrants want to come here and often pay someone to facilitate their illegal entry. This is being organised/facilitated by a third party i.e. a smuggler for gain.

Trafficking is a far more serious issue than immigration offences and therefore if trafficking is suspected it should take primacy.

Human trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation and exploitation of a victim. This may include an illegal immigrant.  Consent initially given by the victim will not be valid if it was obtained by fraud, deception or coercion. In recruiting victims, the deception will involve certain strands either singularly or combined. This may be through complete coercion from threats or actual violence to the subject or family members and abduction. Deception may take a more subtle form and may exploit the economic conditions, the vulnerability or cultural beliefs of the victim. The fundamental difference between human trafficking and smuggling is that to constitute human trafficking there must be some form of exploitation involved or intended. Section 1 of the Criminal Law (Human Trafficking) Act 2008 defines ‘exploitation’ which means:

  • Labour exploitation
  • Sexual exploitation or
  • Forced Criminality or
  • Exploitation consisting of the removal of one or more of the organs of a person.

The trafficker has control over the victim after they arrive at their point of destination and exploits them.

Other areas of exploitation include the facilitation of benefit and identity fraud, exploitation of children in areas such as begging, street musicians, flower sellers. People forced into marriage or into selling or giving up children for adoption whilst culturally acceptable in other cultures may contain elements of human trafficking. 

Traffickers use a number of strategies in their efforts to control their commodities, which are human beings. The most common examples are debt bondage where the trafficker has taken the opportunity to travel to another place based on a loan or an arrangement for them or their family in their country of origin to pay back the travel costs. There may be removal or control of documentation or demands for more money during this process. But invariably once within the realms of control, the victim’s personal freedom, threats to their life and safety, or that of their family, and subjugation to forms of physical, sexual, psychological and emotional abuse can all become apparent.

Crimes for Trafficking in Human Beings are arrestable offences with a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.