Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

This research brief summarises the legal and policy findings from the RSC Working Paper no. 119, "The ‘humanitarian smuggling’ of refugees: criminal offence or moral obligation?" It outlines the concept of ‘humanitarian smuggling’, and then critiques smuggling prohibitions at the international and the EU levels. It argues that these prohibitions are overbroad and vague, failing to meet basic requirements of the rule of law. Moreover, they criminalise acts that fall outside the law’s stated purpose, acts that are often ethically defensible. Finally, the brief analyses existing proposals to improve the framework governing smuggling and provides additional recommendations to decriminalise ‘humanitarian smugglers’.



Research in Brief


Refugee Studies Centre

Publication Date



Research in Brief 6

Total pages