- Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour by Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano
While episodic mass migration is not a new phenomenon, the number of people seeking safety or economic opportunities in Europe has reached unprecedented levels in recent years. In what has been labelled 'the worst refugee crisis since the second world war' (Economist 2016), 1.3 million people sought asylum in the European Union in 2015 alone. 'Distinguishing migrants from asylum seekers and refugees is not always a clear-cut process, yet it is a crucial designation because these groups are entitled to different levels of assistance and protection under international law' (Park 2015:1). This large-scale influx of people has overwhelmed the capacity of states, the European Union and international agencies to deal effectively with mass migration from a rights-based perspective. Park (2015) suggests that this has created a grey area which is compounded by the inconsistent methods used by member states to assess asylum applications. States and law enforcement agencies have instead been preoccupied with how this development has affected the criminal landscape of Europe (Europol 2016), resulting in the 'criminalisation of migration' (Tinti and Reitano 2016). Indeed, the distinction between (irregular) migrant and refugee has become increasingly blurred as more and more desperate people seek out the services of smugglers in a country of temporary refuge to facilitate their journey to third states of their choice. According to Europol (2016), more than 90 per cent of irregular migrants made use of facilitation services provided by smuggling networks across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. This has created tensions within and amongst European states as how to conceptualise and manage this 'migrant crisis' as international migration and human mobility continue to increase in scope and complexity. The popular dichotomies, and international legal [End Page 140] frameworks, which currently exist regarding migrants, refugees and smugglers are challenged by Peter Tinti and Tuesday Reitano in their rich and detailed analysis of the migration crisis in Migrant, Refugee, Smuggler, Saviour. They also call into question how states should respond to mass mixed migration in an era of complex interdependence and uncertainty.
The collaboration between Peter Tinti, an independent journalist and Senior Research Fellow at the Global Initiative Against Transnational Organised Crime, and Tuesday Reitano, an academic specialising in the field of organised crime networks and deputy director of the Global Initiative, has produced an insightful examination of the complexities of migrant-smuggling networks and informal political economies within the context of the European migrant crisis. Extensive empirical research interwoven with rich narrative accounts of those at the heart of the smuggling industry, as well as migrants and refugees lived experiences, makes it a compelling and thought-provoking read. The book is intended for a wide audience and seeks to change the way in which we think about migrant-smuggling networks, and to recognise that 'there is a new global paradigm when it comes to migration … [where] existing strategies of border control do more harm than good' (262-3). Counter-productive responses have resulted in higher barriers to migration, entrenching the role played by organised crime in facilitating such illicit journeys. Tinti and Reitano note that shifting power dynamics cause the smuggling industry to become simultaneously more profitable, exploitative and abusive. The authors thus suggest that European policy has inadvertently contributed to creating the very criminogenic environment it seeks to suppress.
The book comprises nine chapters and is divided into two parts. The first part of the book delves into the role of smugglers as 'service providers in an era of unprecedented demand' (6). Here the authors explore the recent increased demand for the services of migrant smugglers; the nature of the migrant-smuggler relationship; the structure of this illicit industry; and how migrant-smuggling networks operate. It provides the conceptual framework for the second part of the book which examines the key migrant-smuggling hubs through first-person observation and interviews with individuals intimately linked to a complex and highly adaptive smuggling industry. It is this analysis which sets it apart from other research into the migrant crisis in Europe which is...