The issue of criminal and organized smuggling of migrants, on a large scale was a source of great concerns for all States. This issue would eventually lead to the misuse of national asylum or immigration procedures. However, given an increasing number of obstacles to access safety, asylum-seekers are often compelled to resort to smugglers. In the case of trafficked persons, particularly women and children, under exceptional circumstances, may need international protection.
The adoption of the UN Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, including the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air (“Protocol against Smuggling”) and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (“Protocol against Trafficking”) was followed with much interest by the international community.
The Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, supplementing the Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, was adopted by the United Nations in Palermo, Italy in 2000. It is also referred to as the Smuggling protocol. It is one of the two Palermo protocols, the other one being the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children.
The Smuggling Protocol entered into force on 28 January 2004. By 2006 the protocol had been signed by 112 states, and ratified by 104.
The Protocol is aimed at the protection of rights of migrants and the reduction of the power and influence of organized criminal groups that abuse migrants. It emphasizes the need to provide migrants with humane treatment, and the need for comprehensive international approaches to combating people smuggling, including socio-economic measures that address the root causes of migration.