Print version

De-canting ‘Trafficking in Human Beings’, Re-centring the State


Contemporary liberal states are eager to combat ‘human trafficking’, which state actors describe as ‘the scourge of modern slavery’ and a violation of human rights. The same states are also depriving migrants of their freedom on an unprecedented scale through immigration detention, forcibly moving them across borders through deportation, and sustaining a flourishing industry in the prevention and control of human movement. This is not a paradox. The ambition to eradicate ‘slavery’, as much as the desire to severely restrict freedom of movement, reflects a concern to preserve and extend state powers, in particular its monopoly on violence and on the control of mobility.
Keywords: People smuggling; human trafficking; illegal immigration