Refugee Movement and Crime

International flows of people are a distinctive trait of our contemporary globalized world, in as much as international flows of goods, services, and ideas. However, host countries are far more concerned that refugees increase crime, rather than unemployment or taxes and, hence, fear of their involvement in crime is at the center of the public and political debate. With the number of forcefully displaced people hitting a record 70.8 million in 2018, large-scale arrival and prolonged presence of refugees can have various kinds of impacts in the host country, which are far more difficult to measure. The UNHCR notes that “when large numbers of refugees arrive in a country and especially when they are in a destitute situation and do not share ethnic or cultural linkages with the host community there is always a risk that social tensions, conflicts and even violence might arise.” Threats to global social security from refugees, according to the experts, assumes greater significance in the forms of human trafficking, drug trafficking, drug addiction, trafficking in arms, violence, robbery, pick pocketing, thefts, vandalism, forgery of official documents, burglaries, rapes, sexual assaults, property, etc. (Fig. 3.1).

According to a study by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, about

2.5 million migrants were smuggled across borders, an operation worth about $5.5 billion to $7 billion in 2016 alone. Neighboring countries shoulder the entire burden of the situation inspite of the fact that these countries often lack sufficient funding to deal with the mass influx of people, leading to a growth in human trafficking and smuggling. Many of the countries absorbing large flows of refugees do not have comprehensive policies to deal with the situation. Refugees are especially vulnerable as they typically move under desperate situations. This creates a situation where transnational crime organizations can come in and take advantage of them through exploitation or trafficking. In most cases, the movement of refugee populations has been based on ongoing violent armed conflicts in the country of origin. Host countries can also be vehicles of spillover violence, if those arriving bring weapons or militant ideologies with them. There are often inherent conflicts among the refugees themselves based on their religious, ideological, and group loyalties. These factions were found to be involved in the conflict against the state, on the one hand, and with each other, on the other hand. To sustain their twopronged armed conflicts, these groups at times take refuge in other countries with or without the knowledge of the host country. These loyalties resulted in open fighting among the various groups living in the host country. During 1980s, various factions of the Sri Lankan refugees in Tamil Nadu were openly involved in armed fights. In addition, refugees are often accused of gun running and arms smuggling. In the case of Afghan and Sri Lankan Tamil refugees, they possessed weapons without valid licenses and took the law into their own hands, especially with the lack of direct

Global Crime Rate

FIGURE 3.1 Global Crime Rate.

control over their activities by the state authorities. The most frequently quoted instance of refugees being a security threat to the state was assassination of Rajiv Gandhi by Sri Lankan Tamils. Review of the literature focusing on recent, high- quality studies in some of the European countries found that various types of criminal activities have taken place in those countries where a large number of refugees have taken shelter. India has a vast coastline of about 7,500 km and open borders with Nepal and Bhutan and is prone to large-scale smuggling of contraband and other consumable items. Though it is not possible to quantify the value of contraband goods smuggled into this country, it is possible to have some idea of the extent of smuggling from the value of contraband seized, even though they may constitute a very small proportion of the actual smuggling.


Terrorism is the premeditated use or threat to use violence by individuals or sub-national groups against noncombatants in order to obtain a political or social objective through the intimidation of a large audience beyond that of the immediate victim. Two essential constituents of the definition are violence and the presence of a political or social motive. Without violence or its threat, terrorists cannot force a political decision maker to respond to their demands. In general, the criteria for defining the term “terrorism” has remained subjective and based mainly on political considerations.

Terrorism has now become intertwined with organized crime, human trafficking, and corruption; no border of the world is untouched by the illicit ding trade today. Terrorism is a serious problem which many countries, including India, are facing. Conceptually, terrorism does not fall in the category of organized crime, as the dominant motive behind terrorism is political and/or ideological and not the acquisition of money-power. The recent experience, however, shows that the criminals are perpetrating all kinds of crimes, such as killings, rapes, kidnappings, gun-running, and drug trafficking.

The fact, however, remains that terrorism is promoted by a wide range of motives depending on the point in time and the prevailing political ideology. Walter Laqueur, an eminent authority on the subject is of the views that there is no definition of terrorism that could cover all its various manifestations in history. Despite differences in approach, most of the experts of the field tend to agree that present-day terrorism is a negative political phenomenon with grave consequences for the individual, society, political regimes, international community, and the human race as a whole. Terrorism can stem from various causes that include: ethno- nationalism. separatism, social injustice, fundamentalist beliefs, religious freedom, etc. In the view of the diverse manifestations of terrorism, it is too arduous to arrive at a common definition of terrorism, which can satisfactorily cover all the varied factors. In other words, terrorism is notoriously difficult to define precisely, objectively, and scientifically except that the primary act of terrorism is to terrorize.

Transnational Terrorism

In the recent past, a new dimension has emerged in terrorism (i.e., transnational terrorism). It involves incidents where the perpetrators and victims are from two or more countries. If an incident begins in one country but terminates in another, then the incident is called transnational terrorism. The country can unleash the terrorist activities in a different capacity (i.e., by pertaining the acts of terrorism in the territory of the other country with the purpose of destabilizing that country). They may use their own directly recruited and controlled terror squads, or may choose to work through proxies. These countries invariably work covertly in such support so that they are able to plausibly deny their involvement. This kind of terrorism is geared to facilitate foreign policy, covertly bringing pressure to bear on countries across the border through violence. The attack on the World Trade Center towers on 9/11 was a transnational terrorist incident because the victims were from ninety different countries, the mission had been planned and financed abroad, the terrorists were foreigners, and the sufferers were from various parts of the globe. India and many other countries across the world are victims of such terrorism. There are a number of countries with worrying rises in terrorism deaths. The country with the largest total increase in deaths from terrorism compared to the prior year is Afghanistan. Nine of the ten deadliest attacks in 2018 were in Afghanistan. In 2018, Afghanistan recorded the highest number of terror-related deaths (Fig. 3.2). Afghanistan has witnessed a substantial escalation in violence owing to a strengthened Taliban insurgency, increased presence of the Khorasan chapter of the Islamic state, and ongoing political instability.


Deaths from Terrorism by Country (2018).

Terrorism Report India, 2018

FIGURE 3.3 Terrorism Report India, 2018.

Post-9/11, India is highly vulnerable to terrorism by foreign terrorists. Terrorism Report India, 2018 reveals that there were 917 deaths and 784 injuries due to terrorist activities during 2018 (Fig. 3.3). There are number of training camps in Pak Occupied Kashmir (POK) in which terrorists are trained and sent inside Jammu and Kashmir and other parts of the country. Direct accessibility and the porous nature of the borders and a long coastline allow insurgents groups tactical flexibility. It is also worthwhile to mention that terrorists and subversive elements are using soft borders of India, touching countries such as Nepal and Bangladesh, to enter India. With Islamist and separatist groups all launching attacks in 2018. there is enhanced concern in the international community at terrorism emanating from Pakistan, including the continuing activities of internationally designated terrorist entities and individuals including Jamaat-ud Dawa (JuD), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), Jaish-e-Mohammad. and Hizbul Mujahideen. India has suffered 8,473 deaths during 2001-2018 due to terrorist attacks. Terrorist activity in Pakistan has considerably reduced in recent years, but it still remains one of the deadliest countries in the world for violence by non-state groups. Khorasan chapter of Islamic state, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, and Lashkar-e- Jhangvi were among active groups that accounted for 15,908 terrorist-related deaths in Pakistan in last two decades. In 2016, there were a total of 13,488 terrorist attacks in the world, among which 4,573 occurred in Asia, which accounted for 24% of the international total (Hao et al., 2019).

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