On November 24th, 27 migrants died trying to cross the Channel to the UK in an inflatable dinghy. This was one of the deadliest incidents of this kind.
The UK’s prime minister Boris Johnson blamed France for not taking stricter measures to prevent those who enable such journeys. People trafficking gangs were “literally getting away with murder”, he said.
But are the people smugglers really the ones to blame for these deaths? Would tougher sentences on those who offer such services be warranted? Are tougher measures likely to benefit migrants in any way? Or would they end up putting them in situations of even greater danger?
Mollie Gerver is an assistant professor in the Department of Government at the University of Essex. From January 2022 she will be an assistant professor in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London. Her philosophical research focuses on two main topics: consent, and immigration ethics.
She is the author of the book The Ethics and Practice of Refugee Repatriation and a number of papers on the Ethics of Immigration, one of which we discuss on the podcast: Decriminalizing People Smuggling.