On 20 - 22 June 2018, in Paris, the Council of Europe organised a meeting to discuss concrete tools to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants. Two Working Groups focused on best practices and effective measures to prevent and combat the smuggling of migrants and to foster international co-operation and investigative strategies in fighting this transnational criminal activity.
“Countries closing borders push more migrants into the hands of smugglers. And the lack of legal pathways into Europe generates more prospects for the smuggling business, which at the end could lead to a serious security risk for Europe. The Council of Europe´s work to combat this is central; and I am confident that the Paris meeting will bring the issue forward, as foreseen in the Council of Europe Action Plan on protecting migrant and refugee children”, said the Special Representative of the Secretary General on Migration and Refugees, Tomáš Boček.
The setting up of the Working Groups is the latest in a series of activities undertaken by the Council of Europe in the past years in response to the challenges presented by the significant increase in migrant smuggling. Since 2015, the European Committee on Crime Problems (CDPC) decided to include in its activities the question of the criminal law aspects related to this issue. Two experts’ studies were prepared on “National Laws Relating to Smuggling of Migrants in Council of Europe Member States” and on “Preventing and suppressing the smuggling of migrants in Council of Europe member States – ‘a way forward’”. On 23 June 2017, the Council of Europe held the Conference on the Smuggling of Migrants in Strasbourg. The Conference’s final observations include suggestions for Council of Europe’s further action in this field. The Two Working Groups were set up to ensure follow-up to the outcome of the Conference.