Actually, they are pretty different crimes, in terms of consent, exploitation and transnationality. Let’s start with Human Smuggling. Interpol defines this distinction by stating that:

People smuggling implies the procurement, for financial or material gain, of the illegal entry into a state of which that person is neither a citizen nor a permanent resident.

A broad distinction can be made between people smuggling and human trafficking. In general, the individuals who pay a smuggler in order to gain illegal entry to a country do so voluntarily whereas the victims of human trafficking are often duped or forced into entering another country.

In principle, the relationship between smuggler and migrant ends once the individual arrives in the new country. However, there is evidence that people smugglers continue to exploit illegal migrants, through threats and demands for additional fees. In some cases, smugglers force migrants to work for years in the illegal labour market to pay off the debts incurred as a result of their transportation.

In terms of consent, human smuggling isĀ consensualĀ between the victim and the criminal. The exploitation does not happen in the same sense as with THB (the victim wants to be smuggled) and usually happens through countries.

THB – Trafficking in Human Beings, however is a totally different category. Victims are lured into different crimes: from slavery, to victims of organ donor trafficking or prostitution, they become in situations against their will. In a 2014 map, take a look at the women and children trafficked through the world.


Now it is up to you! Challenge yourself with this easy, 5-question quiz:

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