Human trafficking in the Sinai Desert : A case study of Egypt

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Teologiska institutionen


Since 2009 thousands of Eritreans, as well as other, sub-Saharan migrants have become

victims of human trafficking in the Sinai Peninsula.

These occurrences are linked to the newly

coined notion of “Sinai Trafficking” which has been labeled as a new form of human

trafficking. According to reports, released or escaped victims have disclosed information

regarding collusion between traffickers and Egyptian security forces. Further, there have been

reports that trafficking victims from the Sinai are put in detention centers, prisons and police

stations in Egypt and are often charged or prosecuted for crimes committed in their capacity

as victims of trafficking.

Although Egypt is bound to respect and uphold its international law

obligations national criminal law concerning human trafficking, the continuation of the

situation in Sinai has demonstrated an unwillingness or inability to prevent, suppress and

punish the crime. Consequently, the purpose of this thesis is to examine and interpret

international law as well as Egypt’s national criminal legislation and policies, pertaining to

human trafficking, to determine if there are any inadequacies or gaps in the international legal

framework with regards to human trafficking or if it’s rather Egypt’s implementation of the

law that is faulty. Moreover, a human rights perspective, relevant theories, literature related to

the conceptual framework of human trafficking, the status and treatment of non-nationals and

securitization of migration will be applied.

With regards to the international law on human trafficking, it has been assessed that

there are some inadequacies in relation to protection and support granted to trafficking

victims. Egypt, has adopted relevant international instruments concerning human trafficking.

Further, Egypt has enacted national legislation that corresponds to the Anti-Trafficking

Protocol, which might indicate that it is not Egypt’s national legislation that is inadequate

and rather that the international law concerning human trafficking.

Increasingly restrictive immigration laws, policies and States conduct towards migrants

indicate that migration has been securitized. The Egyptian authorities conduct and

approach towards migrants could indicate that Egypt has securitized the migration issue.

Further, the difficulty to distinguish smuggled migrants from trafficking victims could result

in the possibility of trafficking victims being criminalized. The world of today remains

globalized and thus the political order that follows and its accompanying conceptual and

subsequent legal framework of human trafficking as an organized crime contributes to the

trafficking situation in Sinai as well as to human trafficking in general.

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