The Criminalization of Human and Humanitarian Smuggling

  • Scott Watson University of Victoria


This paper critically examines how states manage international migration through the criminalization of smuggling. I contend that the smuggling narrative relies on three categories to reduce the ambiguity associated with smuggling and undocumented migration: smugglers/humanitarians, legal/illegal entry, and agents/victims. The insistence on pure and unambiguous categories has renderd migration legible to states by denying the complexity of international migration, redefining humanitarian practices, reinforcing problematic depictions of organized crime and humanitarian actors, and denying the culpability of the state in the prevalence and danger of smuggling.


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