Illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings seen as a security problem for EUROPE

1. The situation
1.1. General trend

Based on information contributed by the Member States, Europol
estimates that around 500.000 persons enter the European Union illegally
every year. Around half of this number is believed of having been
assisted in some way by organised criminal groups. The involvement of
organised criminal networks continues to rise along with the level of
organisation exhibited by these groups. These organisations are
increasingly becoming involved with the facilitation of illegal
immigration, as it is a highly profitable business, earning up to twelve
billion Euro worldwide every year, with, currently, little risk of detection
or conviction. Also of concern are the increasing levels of violence and
risk linked with organised illegal immigration.
The most common directions for migration are north and west; from
poorer, less-developed countries to the more economically and politically
stable countries in the West. Motivations for migration are generally
political and economic, but also include natural disasters such as floods
and man-made crises such as war. These account for all of the major
migration movements of the last few years, including from the Former
Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq and China.
Historical, language and community links often dictate which of the
Member States the migrants will attempt to reach. The huge Chinese
communities in the United Kingdom make it easier for Chinese nationals
to assimilate there, a common language make France a desirable
destination for Algerians and Portugal desirable to Brazilian migrants.
Other factors include expectations, often false, as to the chances of
employment, the generosity of the asylum system in destination countries
as well as the likelihood of successful application.
Europol’s most recent General Situation Report on Illegal Immigration
identified the following elements of the current situation as being of
special concern:
• the large numbers of Kosovo-Albanians entering the
European Union;
• the extensive use of the southern coasts of Spain, Greece and
Italy as entry points;
• the increased use of Central and Eastern European States as
source, transit and destination countries.
The increased use of Central and Eastern European countries and
particularly the Balkans as transit countries continues to be an issue both
politically and in the media. Most reporting of this problem has focussed
on the number of migrants arriving in Europe at Belgrade and Sarajevo
airports in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Bosnia Herzegovina
respectively and the onward journey of these migrants to the European
Most attention has been given to Chinese migrants, typically arriving in
Belgrade and staying as part of the large Chinese community there before
travelling on to the European Union. However, there are also large
numbers of other Asian migrants using this route as well as nationals of
Eastern European countries. The largest groups entering Bosnia come
from Iran and Turkey.
It is currently estimated that at least 10% of all the migrants who arrive in
the Member States do so through the Balkans. This extensive use of many
of the Balkan countries to enter the Member States of the European
Union is an issue that Europol is monitoring very closely, particularly in
light of the fact that some of these countries will become part of the
European Union in the future. The investment at this stage will prepare
Europol for the time when these countries become part of the European
Union. It is one of Europol’s main priorities to help combat these
problems whatever the source of the migrants or the route that they use
when the result is that, with the help of organised crime networks, the
migrants end up illegally in the European Union.

1.2. Involvement of Organised Crime (OC)
Illegal Immigration
OC involvement in illegal immigration is increasing into the EU. The
more the Member States increase their capabilities of detection and
control of illegal immigrants, the better it is for OC groups, with whom
the emigrants – who lack the connections and “know how” to bypass the
controls – have to deal in order to reach their destination.
Many OC groups are involved: from all Member States as well as from
Afghanistan, Albania, Bulgaria, Moldavia, Iraq, various African
countries, Russia, Turkey and from the former Yugoslavia. Lately even
South American organisations have been seen impacting on the EU.
Illegal immigrants use a wide variety of means to reach the EU. Many
arrive via land, air or sea with forged passports or visas, or hidden in
cargoes. Immigrants from Asia usually travel in small groups of five to
ten. In a number of cases groups of up to 40 persons have been
intercepted, camouflaged as “tourist groups”. Others reach countries near
to their destination, where OC groups are ready to arrange their transport,
which is usually both expensive and dangerous.
Illegal immigrants are requested to pay sums of money which often result
in large debts. A passage to the EU can cost between €3,500 and €11,250,
with an average estimated at around €5,000.
Immigrant and drug routes to the EU are roughly the same. A northern
route passes from Russia via the Baltic States to Scandinavia or Austria
and Germany. Another northern one passes through Russia, Poland or the
Czech Republic to Germany or Austria. The Balkan route goes via Bosnia
Herzegovina or Albania to Italy or Greece. From Turkey and the Middle
East, dilapidated vessels crammed with numerous immigrants sails
towards Italy’s coast, while many little crafts try to reach Spain from
Many countries outside the EU can be considered as source countries.
From the Balkans to Eastern Europe, from Turkey to the Middle East,
from Central to South Asia and the Far East, from Africa to South
America, the global number of migrants has been estimated at some 150
million people in 2000.

The main areas involved in illegal immigration vary from Member State
to Member State, but they generally include some African countries,
Asia, and Central and Eastern Europe (including the Balkans). It appears
that Afghans, Chinese and Kurds are the main groups of people being
trafficked. Traditional push and pull factors such as ongoing conflicts or
political persecution and the relative prosperity in the EU account for a
large part of the explanation to illegal immigration flows, including the
presence of fellow nationals and work opportunities in the Member
States. In Spain, the language factor means that many illegal immigrants
come from South America (Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina and
Brazil). For many illegal immigrants, especially those from South Asia,
the final destination is the UK.
Trafficking in Human Beings
Undeniably intertwined with the exploitation of workers, most often in
the sex market, trafficking in human beings is a modern slave trade, with
a wide and ever growing involvement of OC. The underlying root causes
of trafficking in human beings include poverty, unemployment, lack of
education and lack of resources.
Trafficking in human beings is run by a combination of foreign and local
groups, operating in loose networks. The foreign OC groups, which can
include naturalised citizens, tend to have their origin in the source country
of the victims they traffic. They are the main organisers of the
recruitment and transportation of the victims.
Domestic OC groups are well established within the local criminal
environment and often engage in the sex industry and the cheap labour
markets. This means that they themselves run exploitative ventures (for
instance brothels or labour gangs) and have contacts with or influence
over smaller, lower level exploiters (like pimps or sweatshops). They
could be seen as the users of trafficked victims, and thus engaged in a
supplier-consumer relationship with their foreign counterparts.
All Member States which have reported the presence of foreign OC
groups have mentioned the heavy involvement of Balkan and East
European OC, with Albanians playing a major role. Nigerians are also
active in many Member States, while Turkish groups have been reported
in Germany, Colombians in Spain, Chinese groups in the UK and Middle
East nationals in Sweden.

Recruitment takes place in the country of origin, including countries in
the Balkans, the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, Russia, Sub-Saharan
Africa, South America and South East Asia. Taking the data contained in
the Member States’ contributions as a whole, three types of victims can
be observed: those described either as exploited, deceived or kidnapped.
The exploited victims are those who knew that they were going to be
employed in the sex industry, but would never have imagined the slavelike
conditions they have to work under, or the fact that little or no money
would be left for them.
The deceived victims have been recruited to work in the service or
entertainment industry, often through seemingly legitimate employment
agencies or brokerages, and once they arrive in the Member States they
are forced into prostitution.
The kidnapped victims were unwilling from the start. Though they may
already have been working in the sex industry in the source country, they
had no intention of going abroad. These victims remain the property of
their owners and are often sold amongst networks or individual pimps.
They are sex slaves in the truest sense.
The routes for trafficking in human beings are basically the same as the
ones used for drugs and illegal immigrants. The Balkan route is a
notorious example. As for the methods used to gain entry into a Member
State, they are also very similar to those used by illegal immigrants, with
a larger use of forged or stolen travel documents. These can be official
documents (passports, visas) or personal ones (marriage papers, letters of
invitation, job offers or student placement).
Forgery of the personal documentation is easy, particularly in light of
inadequate procedures to verify their validity. In the case of falsified
identities, a second “official document” (for instance a driver’s licence)
showing the same false identity is often carried as corroboration if border
officials question the first document which is tendered, usually the
passport. Forgery of visas is harder.

The issuing of visas from some Member State embassies in certain source
countries is a cause of concern. Likewise, the security of embassy
premises may not be sufficient to prevent the theft of blank visas. The
victims are often supplied with authentic visas from Member States
embassies in the source countries, obtained through a wide range of
deceitful methods, such as face invitations and hotel bookings, or
overstaying after their student or visitor visas have expired.
2. Possible Action at EU level
2.1. Main objectives
• To maintain fortress Europe, but based on a democratic approach.
• To make succeed intra-European initiatives: Schengen, EUROPOL,
• To become more effective combining criminal networks.
2.2. The main balances
• Legal versus illegal
• Individual versus organised
• Predictable versus unpredictable
• Expected versus unexpected
• Wanted versus unwanted flows of immigration and trafficking in
human beings.
2.3. The main instruments used
• The efforts to combat organised crime
• Well balanced asylum policy measures.
• Regularisation campaign for illegal immigrants.
• Naturalisation procedures.
• Repatriation efforts.

2.4. Based on
• High quality situation reports.
• Threat assessments.
• European identification of persons involved (victims and others).
• Sharing of intelligence.
• Early warning mechanisms.
• Joint investigations.
• Multi-agency approach (involving NGO’s).
Especially the area’s between policy meetings in Brussels and expert
level have to be bridged committing at the highest level the Member
States’ authorities, involving all Member States subject of common
Action plans should then cover the area’s of origin, transit problems,
border control, intra-European Union interests.
2.5. Specific needs
Particular interest should be given to:
• Crime indicators.
• Parameters identifying involvement of organised crime (quality of
documents, communication techniques, travel arrangements).
• New phenomena such as involvement of trafficked people into
underground industry, adoption procedures, trafficking of organs, etc.
• Co-operation with victims in order to identify criminal networks (e.g.
via temporary residence permits).
• Multi-agency and multi-functional national and multi-national cooperation.
3. General
• Despite the growing and worrying impact of THB on the EU, various
Member States do not consider it a high crime priority, as a result
there is still insufficient knowledge concerning this phenomenon and
inadequate law enforcement resources have been allocated to it.
• The development of political and legislative initiatives encouraged by
the European Commission and by the Council, together with the fight
against Transnational Organised Crime signed in December 2000,
represent crucial steps towards a global approach to THB, taking into
account its complexity and its international nature. However the
practical response of the competent operators will be crucial to the
effectiveness of this political and legislative commitment.
Today’s conference will also lead to agreement on additional policy
matters and initiatives contributing to better prevent and combat these
Sources :Europol & I.O.M

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