‘Migrant smuggling and ICT: Research advances, prospects and challenges'

Georgios Papanicolaou, Parisa Diba, Georgios Antonopoulos

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the question of the role of ICT (Information and Communications
Technology) in human smuggling and provides a critical appreciation of the emerging
research literature around it. There is no lack of alarmism or even sensationalism in representations
of human smuggling as a form of transnational organised crime in official and, particularly,
media accounts of the phenomenon. Cross-border or transnational organised crime has
emerged as a key policy area in our era of globalisation, one that is backed up by a new international
policy regime featuring international instruments of major significance, such as the
2000 UN Convention on Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) (United Nations, 2004).
These, in turn, have engendered a new law enforcement alertness, infrastructure, and capacity
to monitor and address the issue at national, regional, and global level. In the past 25 years or
so, there has emerged a substantial body of knowledge exploring and documenting the possible
threats and real harms involved in the business of human smuggling (see McAuliffe and
Laczko, 2016), and it continues to grow in the context of the booming of irregular migration
flows from Asia and Africa to Europe. Much of the literature focuses on the link between the
predatory intention and practices of human smugglers and the exposure of irregular migrants
to conditions of vulnerability and abuse, up to and including the possibility of death en route
(see, e.g., Clarke-Billings, 2017). Official accounts typically emphasise the role of members of
criminal networks in irregular migration (see Europol and Interpol, 2016) as well as the gravity
of the threat this connection engenders. Since the beginning of 2014, IOM’s Missing Migrants
Project has reported the deaths of over 35,000 people, noting that even this figure should be
treated as ‘indicative of the risks associated with migration, rather than representative of the
true number of deaths across time or geography’ (IOM, 2020).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch Handbook on International Migration and Digital Technology.
EditorsMarie McAuliffe
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
ISBN (Print)9781839100604
Publication statusPublished - 7 Dec 2021


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