The audacity to seek a better life: should the European Union adopt a human rights based approach to human smuggling?
Todorova, Elitsa Nikolaeva
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Human smuggling is a complex phenomenon triggered by a variety of socio-economic and political factors. The clear legal distinction between human smuggling and human trafficking, in reality, is obscure, especially for the most vulnerable. Despite the risks involved, human smuggling is often the only way for those whose rights are grossly unrespected, unprotected and unfulfilled elsewhere to seek dignity and a better life. Whilst the European Union’s values theoretically promote all human rights for all human beings, in reality the Union has been adopting an increasingly securitised approach along with a criminalising and highly-polarised discourse– all circumstances which exacerbate existing vulnerabilities and marginalisation among irregular travellers. It is high time that the European Union recognises the overlapping human rights risks for the most vulnerable and adopts a Human Rights Based Approach to human smuggling, as it has for human trafficking. Ongoing international negotiations provide a window of opportunity for the European Union to lead the way of change by adopting a comprehensive and dignifying Human Rights Based Approach for those who need to rely on facilitators to seek a better life.