Articles on Undocumented migration, illegality, human smuggling and trafficking

Leman, J. (2009). 'Zonder Papieren'. Over de positie van irreguliere migranten en de rol van het vreemdelingenbeleid in België (M. Van Meeteren, M. van San en G. Engbersen), in  Migrantenstudies vol:25 issue:4 pages:337-338.

A review of the research on irregular stay of migrants in Belgium, of the auhors mentioned in the title, and on demand of two Belgian ministers.

Leman, J. (2004). ‘Risorse umane dell’immigrazione illegale’, in CeMISS, Osservatorio Strategico, Le reti criminali : minaccia contro democrazia e sicurezza, Roma, 2004 n.3, 63-66. 

Leman, J.(1997). ‘Undocumented migrants in Brussels: diversity and the anthropology of illegality’, New Community, vol. 23, nr. 1, 25-41. 

Abstract: The article reveals undocumented migrants to be highly heterogeneous in terms of their origins, the way in which they enter the country, their work and the structure of their family life. This is demonstrated by examining the situation in Brussels in the first half of the 1990s. A distinction is drawn between forms of ‘migrant residence illegality’ and ‘migrant employment illegality’. The context is set with the help of a brief outline of the situation in the regions of origin of four important groups of ‘illegal workers’ – North-East Poland, Medellin (Columbia), the Philippines and Nigeria. The concrete experiences and structures of day-to-day life in clandestine circles in Brussels are then described, including the orientation towards work, money and the employer-employee relationship, the absence of host country administration and housing and leisure. The quest for an anthropological rationale – an anthropology of illegality in the case of ‘migrant employment illegals’ – leads to the mediating role played by the established churches. These are shown not only to be institutions of social reception but also – and in certain cases above all – the guardians of ethnic and community self-esteem. The cult of the ethno-religious gives substance to a homeland that has never really been left behind and reinforces the distance between the undocumented migrants and the host country. 


Leman, J. & S. Janssens (2015). Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Southeast Europe and Russia. Criminal Entrepreneurship and Traditional Culture. London-New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 184 p.

Through unprecedented access to over 100 court files and sentences and interviews with police and security personnel in both origin and destination countries, this book provides the most comprehensive exploration to date of human trafficking and migrant smuggling in Eastern Europe and Russia. Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling in Southeast Europe charts the development and organization of the complex criminal networks involved in trafficking and smuggling, paying particular attention to: the entrepreneurship of criminals; social control mechanisms; the 'intermediate' structures, (such as transport modalities, safe houses, and embassies); financial modalities, and; the perspectives and agency of victims. Enriched with many case studies informed by police and judicial information, the book draws on interdisciplinary perspectives and will be of great interest to both criminologists and anthropologists studying international organized crime.

Leman, J. ed. (1995). Sans document. Les immigrés de l’ombre. Brussels, De Boeck Université, 141 p. 

Résumé: L’auteur et ses collaborateurs esquissent ici un tableau concret et nuancé de la vie que mènent trois de ces communautés de l’ombre: les latino-américains, les polonais et les nigérians à travers l’Europe et à Bruxelles en particulier. Ils constatent qu’il s’agit d’une immigration où la femme joue un rôle primordial et où l’identité est déterminée par l’emploi et la relation avec l’employeur. Tout le reste du vécu y dépend d’un bout de papier. 
A translation in French of : Leman, J. (1994). Documentloze immigranten te Brussel. Cultuur en Migratie issue:2 pages:1-148
Human smuggling/trafficking

Leman, J. (ed.). 2002.  L’Etat Gruyère: mafias, visas et traite en Europe.  Mols ed.

Chapter in books

Leman, J., Janssens, S. (2011). The Bulgarian "P" Connection in Belgium. Former Security Agents Sprawling a (Human) Trafficking and Smuggling Business. In: Coen M. (Eds.), Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Illegal Immigration. International Management by Criminal organizations.. Amsterdam, Berlin, Tokyo, Washington,DC: IOS Press, 103-112.

 Co-authored articles

Leman, J. and Janssens, S.
1. ‘Human smuggling and trafficking from/via Eastern Europe: the former intelligence and the intermediary structures,’  Kolor: Journal of Moving Communities, 2006:  vol:6 issue:1 pages:19-40
2. ‘The various 'Safe'-house profiles in East-European human smuggling and trafficking,’ Journal of ethnic and migration studies, 2007,  vol:33 issue:8 pages:1377-1388. (IF publication year : 0.89) (IF most recent : 1.03).
3. ‘An analysis of some highly-structured networks of human smuggling and trafficking from Albania and Bulgaria to Belgium’,  Migracijske i etnicke teme, 2008,  vol:22 issue:3 pages:231-245.
4. ‘Travel agencies as a linking element for human smuggling and trafficking from Eastern Europe’,  Studi emigrazione, Roma, 2007: vol:44 issue:166 pages:443-459.
5. ‘The Albanian and Post-Soviet Business of Trafficking Women for Prostitution,’  European Journal of Criminology, Sage publ., 2008,  vol:5 issue:4 pages:433-451. (IF most recent : 1.0).
6. ‘Travel Agencies as a Linking Element for Human Smuggling and Trafficking from Eastern Europe,’  Tourism and Law: Cross Country Perspectives edition:1st, The Icfai University Press (India), 2008, pages:148-167.
7. ‘Bulgarian Human Trafficking in Belgium and Proactive Learning Entrepreneurship: Developments 2002-2009,’  Migracijske i Etničke Teme, Zagreb:  Institut za migracije i narodnosti, vol:26 issue:1 pages:7-26.
8. ‘Albanian Entrepreneurial Practices in Human Smuggling and Trafficking; Over the Road to England via Brussels’, 1995-2005’. International Migration, 50(6), 10.11.11/j 1468-2435.2010.00654, 1-14 (IF publication year : 0.56) (IF most recent : 0.77).
9. ‘Entrepreneurship and Networking in the Trafficking of Sex Workers from East to West Europe. Cases from Belgium (2002-2008)’, in  Antonopoulos, G.A. and  G.  Papanicolaou (guest editors), Special issue on  ‘Human Smuggling and Trafficking’, in The art of crime(e-journal),  issue 3, May 2011, see
10. ‘Human Smuggling on Europe’s Eastern Balkan and Eastern Borders Routes’, Migracijske i etnicke teme. Vol., April 2018, Nr 1: 71-94.

The authors propose an analysis of the developments in migrants’ smuggling (and indirectly also in transit migrations) on the Eastern Balkan (Bulgaria-Romania) and Eastern Borders (Moldova, Ukraine, Belarus) routes from around 2015 and after the EU – Turkey deal of April 2016. For some transit migrants (and migrants’ smugglers), with the severe controls on the Western Balkan route, both the new routes, with each a long particular smuggling tradition, have become a possible alternative for the Western Balkan route. The authors analyze the official migrant smuggling and illegal border crossing local data in the three clusters of countries on these routes, and develop the thesis that one needs a complementary approach via an analysis of juridical files from countries of destination in Western Europe to fully understand the dimension of the SoM phenomenon on these routes. Instead of putting together only partial findings in some separate transit countries in Eastern Europe, one should follow the processes from the destination to the arrival countries, all-inclusive, as global processes. To show the importance of this all-inclusive approach, the authors analyze some files from one of the possible destination countries (Belgium). With their conclusions, the authors also propose some suggestions for complementary research.
Co-promotor PhD thesis of Dr. Arsovska, Jana (ass. Prof. CUNY). Understanding a 'Culture of Violence and Crime' : The Role of Cultural Codes in the Evolution of Ethnic Albanian Organised Crime Groups, KU Leuven, 12-Jun-2009.