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Legal Briefs on Smuggling of Migrants

The legal briefs were selected by trying to give a wide regional base from over 770 cases present in the Case Law Database of the Smuggling of Migrants Knowledge Portal (powered by SHERLOC) as the most representative cases discussing:

(i) jurisdiction, including at sea,
(ii) organized criminal group involvement in migrant smuggling,
(iii) the concept of financial or other material benefit,
(iv) types of evidence,
(v) smuggled migrants as witnesses,
(vi) international cooperation.

The legal briefs highlight instances where courts adopted a new interpretation of points of law, or cases where the courts departed from solutions adopted previously in jurisprudence, or adjusted their judicial approach to a new legislation.

Structure of the legal briefs


The facts include details on the modus operandi, criminal offences and charges laid, related or enabling offences, aggravating circumstances, number and profile of victims, number and profile of suspects, countries involved etc.


The background includes details on the journey of the smuggled migrants, departure and arrival points, passengers, crew and organisers.

Elements of success

The elements of success in the course of the investigation or the judicial process include, inter alia, potential international cooperation, the robust implementation of UNTOC and SOM Protocol, financial or other material benefit' as constituent element of migrant smuggling etc.


The challenges that had to be dealt with in the case include, inter alia, migrants' protection and support, the support and protection to vulnerable victims, barriers to effective cooperation (social media, financial service providers, data retention), States unwillingness or inability to cooperate etc.

Key issues

The key issues include the relationship between SOM and TIP, the difference between criminal group and organised criminal group, the investigative techniques and the types of evidence etc.


The investigation part includes details on the structure and scope of the police investigation.

Reasoning and Verdict/Decision