Laws too weak to combat migrant-trafficking

Tuesday, 1 June 1999

Australia's immigration laws have failed to keep pace with the multi-billion dollar migrant-trafficking industry, according to a researcher at the University of Adelaide.

Andreas Schloenhardt, a PhD student at the university's School of Law, said migrant trafficking was one of the world's fastest-growing and most profitable illegal businesses. He said it had become a major activity and an important source of income for criminal organisations at both national and international levels.

Mr Schloenhardt is researching migrant-trafficking in the Asia Pacific region - and drafting legislation to combat it - as part of his PhD thesis.

"As countries restrict entry to their territories and access to their asylum and immigration systems, migrants have started looking for alternative ways of leaving and entering countries," he said.

"This has opened new opportunities for transnational organised crime that has increasingly become involved in the business of migrant trafficking. However, increasing publicity and media reports about 'boat people' and other forms of illegal migration have not meant an enhanced awareness on the part of legislative and administrative authorities about the realities of illegal migration and organised crime.

"While criminal organisations have become increasingly transnational, law enforcement in Australia and the Asia Pacific region have remained mostly local and national. The existing laws do not yet address the core of the problem: the international and economic dimension. Also, the primary focus of relevant migration regulations is on the person subjected to trafficking and not on the traffickers."

Mr Schloenhardt, said illegal immigration into Australia could be prevented effectively only if neighbouring countries provided equivalent regulations.

"The efficiency of Australian law increasingly depends on the steps taken abroad to prevent illegal migration and unauthorised transit. It is necessary to review the existing regulations in the Asia-Pacific region with respect to illegal migration and organised crime and compare the different approaches that origin, transit and destination countries take."


Contact Details

Mr Andreas Schloenhardt
The University of Adelaide
Mobile: +61 8 8303 4441

Ms Robyn Mills
Media and Communications Officer
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 6341
Mobile: +61 410 689 084

Mr David Ellis
Deputy Director, Media and Corporate Relations
External Relations
The University of Adelaide
Business: +61 8 8313 5414
Mobile: +61 (0)421 612 762