T-STAN: Toolkit on Smuggling and Trafficking, and a security and rule of law approach to their possible Nexus - with a focus on the route from Libya to the EU.

This T-STAN research resulted in a policy brief and toolkit for policymakers on dealing with mixed migration on the route from Libya to the EU. Libya is an important gateway to this deadliest route which both economic migrants and refugees use to travel to the EU. Whilst some among them may initiallyagree to cross a border illegally, they can be made to – think they have to – repay their travel debt through forced prostitution, labour or organ trade. Whilst the former is migrant smuggling, the latter constitutes human trafficking. But policymakers often confuse or conflate both crimes. This is problematic if anti-migrant smuggling policies cover the victimless crime of migrant smuggling against the State without tackling human traffickers who victimize others through (intended) exploitation. This requires a deep understanding of both crimes, their nexus, and how to holistically combat human trafficking in the context of anti-migrant smuggling policies through prevention, prosecution, protection of victims and partnerships. Therefore, this toolkit explains (i) definitional matters; (ii) cross-learning between transnational organized crime and international crime regimes; (iii) victim screening and identification and linking it to those most responsible; (iv) “new” types of criminal investigations into both crimes; and (iv) conclusions and recommendations.


This project aims to develop a new, evidence-based toolkit for Dutch, EU and UN policy-makers focusing on preventing and responding to ‘mixed migration’ through countering the smuggling of migrants from FCAS to the EU. This toolkit will address the calls from ‘mixed migration’ policy-makers for greater precision regarding the use of terms for “those who move” (whether asylum seekers, refugees or migrants). Although ‘smuggling’ and ‘trafficking’ have two distinct legal regimes (e.g. separate Palermo Protocols), they are often still confused at the policy level. For a correct evidence base for policymaking, this project will: (1) analyse the definitions and practices surrounding smuggling and trafficking; (2) review the policy measures against both crimes; and (3) unlock (original) empirical and legal research data on (a) smuggling routes, (b) (increased) prices paid for smuggling services, especially after ‘securitization’/‘militarization’, (c) the continuum of smugglers involved ranging from persons who seek to help persons fleeing from war, persecution or instability to organized crime actors, (d) a potential smuggling-trafficking nexus, and (e) effectiveness of targeted policies that focus on the most damaging end of organized crime smugglers and traffickers. Through case studies of Libya and the Netherlands, we illustrate concrete pathways of policy successes and failures.


Professional publication


Project number

W 08.400.156

Main applicant

Mr. dr. J.E.B. Coster van Voorhout

Affiliated with

The Hague Institute for Global Justice

Team members

J.E.B. Coster, M. Shaw, F.R. Smith


03/04/2017 to 31/01/2018