Crimmigration between Human Rights and Surveillance

Borders are subject to progressive securitization, surveillance and militarization. EU migration policies are increasingly based more on exclusion and denial of rights and less on equality as a basic legal and ethical principle. With the purpose of control over migrants, migration law is taking over elements of criminal law (the concept is called the criminalization of migration or “crimmigration”), which has threatening consequences for migrants’ fundamental rights. This triggers aspirations for different, inclusive EU migration policies that would aim at respect for human dignity and fundamental rights of all migrants.

The project addresses the problem of the criminalization of migration which is visible in the strengthening of border control institutions (border police and Frontex with large IT surveillance systems), militarization and externalization of border control, confinement of irregular migrants in detention centres, lack of alternatives to detention, antiterrorist laws, penalization of irregular border crossing and disproportionate representation of migrants in prisons. A particular problem is that while migration law is increasingly taking over penalizing elements of criminal law, it is not taking over the criminal law’s procedural guarantees. Migrants are thus as Agamben’s homines sacri, people without Arendt’s “right to have rights.” The problem of crimmigration and creation of “disposable people” highlights that the law is used against its basic purpose, which leads to denial of law (justice/rights) or even to the inversion of law, an element pertaining to setting up of totalitarian regimes. What are the consequences of these processes on equality and rights, the principles and practices of human relations and on the nature of political systems in the EU?

Project leader: Neža Kogovšek Šalamon
Project coworkers: Aleš Završnik, Mojca M. Plesničar, Vasja Badalič, Mojca Frelih, Vlasta Jalušič, Mojca Pajnik and Veronika Bajt

With the purpose of examining the problem from various aspects, the project is structured into six thematic work packages (WPs). The first two WPs are focused on theoretical conceptualization of crimmigration through analysis of their impact on the principle of equality (WP1) and analysis of the impact of large IT surveillance systems and their penal effects on fundamental rights of migrants (WP2). Along with the described framing of the issue we will conduct analysis of three geographical areas (WP3 Western Balkans, WP4 Middle East, WP5 Slovenia) and one specific sub-issue of migrants within the criminal justice systems (WP6). In addition, the WP0 on project coordination and WP7 on dissemination are added to thematic WPs. The methodology of the project will be based on an intersectional approach to the law by including philosophical, political science and sociological concepts, while it will also include intertwining the research results from different WPs for the purpose of comprehensive articulation and understanding of the issue.

Research goals: The overall research goal is to generate new knowledge and find new solutions, based on science.

Specific goals of the project are:

  • To deepen the understanding of criminalization processes in extension of the penalizing state before the entry of migrants into the EU, at the entry and after the entry;
  • To improve the understanding of border management, its externalization and the role of Frontex;
  • To study crimmigration from the perspective of theories of racism and equality;
  • To strengthen the insight into the background of migration policies and criminalization by way of advancing the thought of G. W. F. Hegel, Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben (the “right to have rights” doctrine);
  • To articulate advantages, shortcomings and challenges for EU regulations balancing fundamental rights and the need for surveillance;
  • To frame new theoretical concepts in the field of crimmigration;
  • To raise awareness of Slovenian legal scholars on the issue of relationship between surveillance and fundamental rights; and
  • To contribute to scholarly debate on the EU and international level and thereby promote Slovenian research achievements internationally.


On 17-18 May 2018 the Peace Institute in cooperation with partners (Institute of Criminology at the Law Faculty, Ljubljana, International Law Association Slovenia and CINETS: Crimmigration Control – International Net of Studies) hosted an international conference ‘Understanding causes and consequences of the criminalisation of migration‘. One the eve of the conference, 16 May 2018 a presentation of a Slovenian translation of a book Violent Borders (Reece Jones) was organized in cooperation with *cf Publishing House.

Pogovor o knjigi ‘Nasilne meje: Begunci in pravica do gibanja’, Atrij ZRC.

Presentation of the book ‘Violent Borders’, Atrij ZRC.

The conference hosted 28 scholars and researchers from all over the world who presented interdisciplinary papers from the fields of law, political science, sociology, international relations and from practice. The conference within which the participants shared information, research findings and opinions on the increased trends of the criminalisation of migration, was highly successful (based on feed-back forms of the participants) and rich in interesting discussions, new contacts and ideas for future work.

Conference programme with abstracts of papers


Institute of Criminology at the Faculty of Law