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International co-operation and intelligence sharing to combat migrant smuggling

International co-operation and intelligence sharing are essential if the activities of organised criminal groups related to migration are to be combated effectively, according to the PACE Migration Committee. Innovative, holistic responses should “target all potentially vulnerable aspects of these group’s business models, including money laundering, corruption of public officials and abuse of the internet”.

Adopting unanimously a report prepared by Irakli Chikovani (Georgia, ALDE), the Committee said that the aim must be to use all possible means to transform migrant smuggling, and the various offences often associated with it, “from low-risk, high-return to high-risk, low-return activities”.

The committee calls on member states to ratify and implement the various UN and Council of Europe conventions against migrant smuggling and money laundering. For its part, the European Union and its member states should fully implement the Action Plan against migrant smuggling.

Governments should also develop and effectively apply a full range of investigative and prosecutorial techniques against migrant smugglers. The competent authorities, the adopted text underlines, should be “entitled to seize, confiscate and forensically examine instrumentalities used in smuggling offences” and make more extensive use of interception of communications, in accordance with the safeguards set out in the European Convention on Human Rights. Jurisdiction for offences occurring in the course of smuggling of migrants onto national territory should be extended, “even when ostensibly committed outside it”.

In the committee’s opinion, efforts to combat migrant smuggling should also address the root causes of forced migration that drive migrants into the hands of migrant smugglers. “Adequate and effective resettlement programmes for refugees and safe and legal channels for migration should also be introduced in order to reduce recourse to migrant smugglers”, the parliamentarians stressed.

The text will be debated at the next plenary session of the PACE (25-29 January 2016).