PHILIPSBURG, Sint Maarten (OM) — A suspected human smuggler has had his pre-trial detention extended by sixty days as of Monday, March 14, 2022.
E.B.L. is suspected of smuggling a group of migrants by boat from St. Maarten with destination the United States Virgin Islands (USVI) under the cover of night in a Sint Maarten-registered boat. This is not the suspected human smuggler’s first incident. He has already been convicted twice for human smuggling.
On the French side of the island, E.B.L. was convicted to three years’ imprisonment for human smuggling in 2019. This sentence pertained to an incident in 2013 in which a number of people died by drowning in route from the French side of the island to USVI/BVI.
Human smuggling is providing people with assistance and transport for the purpose of smuggling them over a border. Human smugglers take advantage of migrants’ desperation, charging them huge sums of money to smuggle them out of or into Sint Maarten or other Caribbean islands. Migrants’ lives and health are often put at risk in the process.
Human smuggling is not only transporting people across the border, but also assisting them with staying in a country without the proper resident papers and includes housing them, giving them a job etc. while knowing they are not documented to be in the country.
Human smuggling is not the same as human trafficking, though they do occur in combination. Here are two important differences: In the case of human smuggling, migrants consciously choose to deal with a smuggler. They do not know whether the smuggler will treat them badly. In the case of human trafficking, people are forced to work or to perform sexual or other acts. The aim of human trafficking is to exploit people. People smuggling always involves the transport of migrants over the border to another country. But human trafficking can also take place within a country’s borders without (prior) movement over a border.