Friday, 2 October 2015

This House Believes The West Created ISIS

This house believes the West created ISIS

There are three extremely important elements that have contributed the rise of ISIS and illustrate the Wests responsibility in that process.  They are the creation of a vacuum of identity, the opportunity to seize power, and political instability. All of which have been found in an environment created by the West through our colonial legacy and subsequent interventions.

So who are the West? The West are the state actors, primarily Britain, France, the US and indeed collective organisations such as NATO who represent the interests of those states - globally.

And, who are ISIS? This is something that the media have manipulated to scare us into understanding anything East of our European borders. ISIS are a collection of both rebels who attempted to overthrow Assad during the Arab spring and other smaller groups who have joined forces. They primarily advocate for an extreme interpretation of Sunni Islam that has been manipulated to suit their ability to gain power and control in order to replicate something geographically similar to the Ottoman Caliphate and impose extreme Sharia law. So where do the West fit into this?

Focusing initially on the Wests involvement in imposing a vacuum of identity in the region. This dates far back to the colonial era, where France and Britain dominated. Not only did they dominate territorially – but in terms of culture, language and politics. This manipulation of identity, did not end with de-colonization and the dismantling of Ottoman jurisdiction as one would assume, as it was up to the politicians in Whitehall to draw the lines, with a ruler, on a map to decide what land became what state.  We know that as the Syke’s Picot agreement. This left the region with nations that in many cases split communities and smaller collective identities. Right down the middle.. Your family could be in Egypt, while you’re living over the road in Libya. With no legitimately recognised state decided by the people, and dictators that are imposed to favour the former colonial masters .. What was supposed to unite the Sunni's, Shia's, Christians and Jews when they were unable to unite under a common state?   This was the first step towards creating the vacuum of identity that extremism has been able to flourish within today and is entirely the legacy and responsibility of the West.

The strategies that these former colonial powers are using today in an attempt to tackle ISIS are outdated methods, for dealing with outdated structures. The fictitious jurisdictions drawn by the West failed to acknowledge divides in culture and sect, and Sunni/Shia divide in the conflict are directly a result of this. This is evident in a private conversation that was leaked between former Head of M16 Richard Dearlove and Saudi Prince Bandar, who told him “God Help the Shia, more than a billion Sunni’s have simply had enough of them”.  This is the legacy of the Wests imposition of a political system that has failed to represent both Sunni’s and Shia’s. This means that ISIS are a legitimate part of the Middle Eastern political landscape, they are an insurgency with legitimate popular support from sects of the Sunni community that the political structures and states that the west imposed and failed to cater for.

Flash-forward to the contemporary situation in Syria, of which I will give you a brief overview as I’m aware my colleagues will cover this.  By funding the training of Syrian rebels who have later become ISIS militants, the US has played a significant role in building up their military strength and strategic skills. The involvement of Major non-member allies of NATO, who claim to conform to mutual defence pacts of the West, have been scundered through the admission of America’s top military General Martin E. Dempsey that Qatar, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey have sold weapons either directly or indirectly to militants. There are nations who are supposed to advocate in the interests of the NATO pact and represent Western interests in the region.  


So to conclude, the colonial legacy alone is just the tip of the iceberg in to how the West has contributed to the rise of ISIS. My colleagues here will go on to explain the contemporary involvement of the west, but not only how covert funding, CIA training and provision of weapons to ISIS has materialised from the West and but how our mollycoddling of the region, combined with our media-manipulated fear of the Eastern world will only serve to hinder our further understanding of Middle Eastern cultures and identities as well as our historical role in trying to create a region that benefits the West. I urge this house to consider these arguments and facts I have presented to you and support the motion that this house believes the West created ISIS.


This speech was used at the debate held by the Literific at Queen's University Belfast on the 1st October 2015 by Jessica Simonds.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

A Process to be Proud of – The Unique Relationship between Young People and Development

Young people and development have been terms that are becoming mutually exclusive, something that I am extremely proud and excited about. Back in 2010 I worked on the MDG’s, which then, where just a group of goals, which I personally found quite vague and later, found out where created with little devotion or consultation. The process leading up to the UN summit that is happening this September, that will shape the future of development for the next several years has had nothing but a positive, open minded and most importantly – inclusive consultation process. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s), have been created with what is important for us – the voice of young people as recognized – as an essential component, from the start of the consultation process, right the way through to now, the build up to their adoption.

Some may argue that the MDG’s covered areas that are relevant to young people – but the specificity of the SDG’s needs to have a specific youth aspect to ensure that our governments are accountable for youth specific issues. The interest, enthusiasm and zest for our contribution has been contagious worldwide, with artistic displays, poems, music, political briefs and blogs being set up and shared all over the internet. I am confident that the youth prerogative will be achieved, not only because I feel that young people’s issues have become more prevalent, but because young people have had the opportunity to be a part of the consultation process and evolution of the SDG’s thus far, whether through the extensive and blooming Action 2015 program, to large conferences and events advocating for youth specific issues such as the World Conference on Youth in Sri Lanka last year.

Decision makers have noticed that it will be young people who have to live with the consequences of what is decided at the UN in September and that it is young people who have to take ownership of these goals. In the UK we are lucky that the Department for International Development (DFID) have recognized the positive contribution of young people in shaping policy at home and abroad and are actively seeking our opinions and input for future policy development. Only the future can tell whether this gesture is tokenistic, but the air of positivity around the development agenda is exciting and infectious and I personally believe that this is only the start of a long-lasting relationship between young people and high-level decision makers.

The lesson that should be taken from this process is not only that young people need the opportunity to be heard when it comes to shaping development legislature, but that we need to be positive and hopeful when working on issues that in reality, can have a negative and regressive impact on people’s lives. I look forward to a future with the SDG’s with gender equality, clean seas and fresh air and a world without poverty and war. I hope for further collaboration of ideas and consultation between policy makers and youth, I look forward to the day we can look back and be proud of the positive attitude we have taken towards tackling the most challenging issues of our time and overcoming them as a collective entity.

Friday, 24 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us! / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni! - Lucia's Story

This is Lucia's story of her time at Funky Dragon.. 

Upon joining Funky Dragon and just sitting in the first meeting, I realised that not only would I be joining a hub of young people across Wales, I would also be joining a movement. The people I met there, some now lifelong friends, have given me my first taste of drive, determination and passion for the rights of young people no matter how bleak a successful outcome may have looked. This organisation not only taught me the ins and outs of democracy and politics, not only how to stand up for what I believed to be right but also how to be the best person I could be. Every achievement was celebrated, every piece of work championed and if I may speak for us all, I believe we felt valued as young people - for some of us this was the first time we have felt this way. 

The organisation had a sense of community and belonging; we were proud to be part of it and we were proud of each other. I met young people from all walks of life, allowing me to understand different backgrounds and strengthening my ability to represent my own diverse County. Everyone was friendly, everyone supported each other and it felt like we were all fighting the same battle. It also strengthened our understanding of Party Politics, many of my friends have gone on to study Politics or become Politicians; knowledge of the Country's political agenda is vitally important and I would have not learned it otherwise. 

Growing up in my rural community, I often felt like my voice was unheard. I was very shy and although interested in Politics having joined my county forum, I still was not confident in myself. I found speaking to people terrifying, I was so shy that I couldn't even go into a shop and buy something on my own. I wanted to change this, so I took a terrifying risk and signed up to become a member. Joining Funky Dragon gave hope to not only myself and my local forum, but to my entire County who lived by the "we are not in an English city so they don't care" mantra. Suddenly I, along with my fellow County representatives, became the voice of hope to all of these young people. Suddenly we could tell them that the change They want could happen. I began to gain confidence in myself, volunteering to sit in the House of Commons in the televised UKYP event, becoming bold enough to co-chair meetings with Government officials, most notably in my experience the Chief Executive of the NHS. In my final year I volunteered to lead a debate within the group, in front of the rest of the Youth Assembly. This may seem like a small achievement, but without Funky Dragon and without the support and encouragement that I always had from the group and the staff I, a shy girl from the Countryside would never would have been able to do such a thing. Funky Dragon showed me and a lot of others that our voices do matter and that we really can influence change. It is detrimental to cut such a valuable resource for young people's voice; this organisation has changed many lives. I am not by any means calling it a flawless organisation. But I will continue to celebrate its incredible work and the wider opportunities it brings to its members, the confidence it builds in young people, and the voice it provides for Wales. 

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us! / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni! - Tabby's Story

Tabby was a member of Funky Dragon from Anglesey in North Wales, like many other members she is pursuing an academic career in Politics..
"I was in Funky Dragon for two years. I was the co-chair for Education. Without funky dragon i would of not got into politics and have such passion for way education is given. Funky dragon gave us a voice and it help me understand what others thought in wales. With out it young people don't have voice and how can we build on our futures without politicians on our side.."

Tabitha Cook @tabby123456789  

Monday, 20 July 2015

A Week in Westminster

From the week beginning 13th July, I was lucky enough to be offered work experience in the Westminster office of my local representative, the Rt. Hon David Jones MP for Clwyd West in North Wales. The experience was an amazing opportunity to put to the test my academic understanding of UK politics, engage in the working life of the House of Commons and offer my skills and experience in writing policy recommendations. The opportunity also gave me a chance to gain new competencies in writing press releases, corresponding with constituents and liaising with lobbyist groups. The experience not only gave me the opportunity to use and develop skills but to test my ability to be successful in the working world after three years as a student studying International Politics and Conflict Studies.

The work I was given was varied and challenging and tasks ranged from postal triage engaging in diplomatic meetings. It was a pleasant coincidence that one of my MP’s main areas of interest has moved to the politics of the Middle East, which happened to be one of my most enjoyable modules at Queen’s. Although slightly to the East, the recent nuclear deal in Iran became a main area of debate in the House during my week in the Commons and this was an exciting opportunity to sit in on debates such as Prime Ministers Questions and Oral Questions to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Not only did this opportunity allow me to witness first hand the scrutiny the government is put under following such significant agreements but also sit in on diplomatic meetings with lobbyist groups such as the National Council of Resistance for Iran (NCRI) and hear different sides of the debate on whether the agreement was regarded a success.

A different aspect of the role was engagement with issues raised from constituents, this enabled me to adapt quickly to working on differing issues simultaneously. I was given research tasks on issues such as the assisted dying bill and how the budget will affect North Wales. This enabled me to use skills gained at Queen’s, in particular the ‘Skills and Methods” module which allowed me to evaluate reliability, value and purpose of pieces of data in order to write well balanced and accurate briefings on the differing issues.

Developing professionally, this opportunity has given me confidence in myself to enter the job market following my MA next year, (which will also be at Queen’s) having attractive skills and experience to offer employers. I felt the work I did in the HoC was valued and gave me a genuine portrayal of what is expected of a parliamentary assistant, as opposed to many internships where you're left making tea and photocopying. The other parliamentary assistants encouraged me and I was made to feel like part of the team. The opportunity has also restored my faith in the political system, although speaking only for the hard work of my MP David Jones; I was able to see how he successfully engages with the issues of his constituents with un-doubtable empathy for their issues and a quick turnaround in resolving problems. I would encourage any student in the School to contact their MP and inquire about such an experience as it has undoubtedly enhanced my employability and confidence prior to entering the job market.  

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

We're Still Here, But You Can't Hear Us / Da Ni Dal Yma, Ond Fedrwch Ddim Ein Clywed Ni!

Funky Dragon gave me a voice and inspired me to go back into education. Having been a care leaver at 16 and leaving school with no qualifications. Funky dragon gave me the opportunity to engage with other young people and make some great friends. 

Funky dragon taught me that I was a valued citizen of Britain and my voice mattered. It gave me the confidence to represent other young people. I was transformed from a quiet, nervous person who didn't believe in my capabilities. But within a year I was co chairing meetings at the assembly, running workshops and sessions, speaking at minister's cabinet meetings and supporting funky dragon on their management committee. 3 years with funky dragon saw me thrive in life and gave me real opportunities which has benefited and improved my outcomes. After my time at FD I went on to be a participation youth worker, foster panel member and a representative on the care council for Wales. I also returned to education and as a result have improved my life for the better. Funky D was so much more than just giving YP a voice. It gave us wings to soar and the confidence to shine. It is a great loss but it's work can never be undone or forgotten as we are all still here but you can't hear us! It's just so sad that other children and young people will miss out on such an amazing opportunity. 

Dorian Spencer Lewis

Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Challenges Faced By Stowaways in the Dominican Republic and Haiti

After the recent influx of coverage over the increase of migrants drowning in the Mediterranean I decided to publish this article I wrote for university on the challenges faced by migrants in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Many of the challenges faced by those in this context can be applied to that in the Med, especially the legal battles and challenges with deterrence. 

A stowaway is legally defined by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) as:

“A person who is secreted on a ship, or in cargo which is subsequently loaded on the ship, without the consent of the ship-owner or the Master or any other responsible person and who is detected on board the ship after it has departed from a port, or in the cargo while unloading it in the port of arrival, and is reported as a stowaway by the master to the appropriate authorities (IMO, 1965)".

This definition is important in understanding the challenges faced by stowaways as the subsequent securitisation of the global cargo chain post 9/11 has resulted in differing definitions from those who manage them. For example they are defined in a securitised context as a “plague” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 173) and grouped together with piracy in terms of their levels of threat, when seeking refuge is legally not a crime. My argument will analyse these threats but with the understanding that stowaways from the Dominican Republic and Haiti have always been discriminated against within the foreign policy of the United States (US).
The stowaway faces many challenges that this paper will explore, this is due to the differing contexts in which they are defined (humanitarian, security and legally). For those travelling from the Dominican Republic and Haiti to the USA, I argue these challenges have been intensified by the pre-emptive measures put in place to deter them such as the intervention of the coastguard in territorial and high waters, US customs raids on vessels leaving the port state and a history of repatriation schemes targeting the specific nations of the Dominican Republic and Haiti.

The wide scope of interpretation of the UNHCR’s refugee convention for dealing with those escaping “a well-founded fear of persecution” (UNHCR, 1967) is difficult to apply in the context of a stowaway in the Caribbean as the convention was written in order to manage politically motivated eastern European refugees. I argue that the miss-interpretation of this policy in regards to the first waves of migration from the Caribbean basin to the USA during the 1960’s, is what has made it difficult for those with genuine claims to refuge. This fear is based on the mistakes learned from the Cuban Mariel boatlift disaster which saw Dictator Fidel Castro allow Cubans to flee, who were initially welcomed with open arms by US President Jimmy Carter. This resulted in “125,000 Cubans seeking asylum in the USA... and it became clear that the USA was unable to accommodate these swelling numbers” (Kline, 2013, p. 1) this state of affairs has evidently shaped the discriminatory policy towards those travelling from the Dominican Republic and Haiti due to embarrassment over the perceived uncontrollable nature of Caribbean immigration.
The public perception of the stowaway and typical migrant from Dominican Republic and Haiti has been that of a poor, unskilled individual who is looking to migrate to the USA in way of creating a better life, which can offer a challenge when looking to submit a claim for asylum. The majority of migrants travelling from the Dominican Republic and Haiti arrive in Florida by boat and account for “41.7% of the population” (Migration Policy Institute, 2012)” representative of how many migrants travel by sea in order to reach America.  As suggested by John A. Bushnell the deputy assistant for inter-American affairs during the 1960’s, “The stark contrast between living conditions and economic prospects in Haiti and the US is the principal factor in motivating emigration to this country.” (Zucker & Zucker, 1996, p. 68). Realistically this is not the case as those who have historically stowed away from the Dominican Republic and Haiti to the USA are predominantly travelling for purposes of mixed migration, which defined as “the term to described the complex and varied reasons that motivate people to leave one state and enter another... may be forced, precipitated by persecution” (Klein, 2012, p. 260) can offer a variety of reasons for the motivation of the stowaway reflective of how the initial policies of allowing mass escape has disadvantaged those who seek genuine refuge. This represents how the refugee convention can be open to interpretation when it comes to stowaways and this flexibility led to the open discrimination of Haitian and Dominican refugees through selective immigration policies.
The first mass movement of migrants from the Dominican Republic happened in the 1960s “in the wake of economic and political turbulence that occurred after dictator Rafael Trujillo was killed” (Nwosu, 2014), which confirms the majority of migrants as economic and political, which although would make many of them eligible for refugee convention status, was mismanaged again due to the processes in which their pleas were heard. This situation is resonated amongst migrants from Haiti who started to arrive in the US in large numbers following the “collapse of the Duvalier dictatorship in the late 1980’s” (Nwosu, 2014) as their appeals for asylum were heard collectively as an active way to ensure their deportation.  During the 1980’s Haiti was marked as a Level 4 country at risk from political violence, risks of terror and human rights abuses, yet “no refugees were allowed in until 1994.” (Zucker & Zucker, 1996, p. 68), However refugees from neighbouring states such as Cuba were allowed in while only considered a level 3 country. This represents how those who had predominantly stowed away in order to reach the USA had done so on the grounds of “mass asylum despite many not having a well-founded fear of persecution… even if they were oppressed with limited freedoms” (Zucker & Zucker, 1996, p. 66) as opposed to as individuals facing political persecution.  This mismanagement was detrimental to the subsequent US policies towards Haitians, as the lesson taken was that it was the migrants themselves abusing the system as opposed to US mismanagement of the individual cases which has led to further discriminatory policies under the shadow of securitisation.
 It is the backlash of these policies that has led to challenges being imposed on those who had a genuine fear of persecution, as displayed through the policies of the Reagan administration. Reagan was attempting to establish the US as the global hegemon and quickly realised that a “nation that controls its borders was saying to the world it brooked no violations of its sovereignty” (Zucker & Zucker, 1996, p. 72) and launched a selective method of border control within Florida. This entailed moving interdicted stowaways around the country where they had limited access to legal support and even holding them in Costa Rica in order to remove the ability to file for legal aid.  The selectiveness of this control heavily impacted in Haitians as it was only targeted at letting in those from communist states as a symbol of America’s commitment to freedom, this is evident through the “18,260 Eastern Europeans” (Robila, 2007, p. 114) that where allowed into America and given work permits. This represents how the challenges of the changing political arena reflected on the treatment of those seeking refuge through stowing away.

Interdiction as “the attempt to intercept irregular migrants before they reach the territory of a state” (Klein, 2012, p. 260) was a preceding feature of the Haitian programme aimed at catching Haitians attempting to travel in international waters towards Florida, it was re-enacted under the Regan administration under the INS-Justice department taskforce and has been a feature of policy ever since. Interdiction has historically provided a challenge to stowaways as if they are found in territorial waters of the flag state (Haitian/Dominican waters) or international waters, the US coastguard has no sovereign duty to protect them and is able to send them back. This would mean “no chance to appeal for asylum or pro-bono legal support” (Zucker & Zucker, 1996, p. 72), a situation that is unique to the situation of stowaways due to the geographical implications of travelling by sea in areas that have no sovereign claim. Post 9/11 this situation has dramatically changed as the management of maritime traffic has become securitised through the International Ship and Port Facility Security Code that enables port state contractors to search ships that are not in their waters as an imperative part of the USA’s policy towards stowaway interdiction.
The US coastguard plays the most important role in the interdiction of stowaways in a contemporary context. The two most important areas they cover are “border patrol and maritime law enforcement” (US Coastguard, n.d.) This is reflected through their interdiction programme Operation ABLE RESPONSE, where “from April 1st 1995 to October 1st 1997 managed to interdict over 9,500 migrants travelling from the Dominican Republic forcing them to turn back” (US Coastguard, 2014), although this number will include those who are travelling in their own boats, it does include stowaways that have been interdicted in either Dominican territorial waters or international waters. A similar program has been carried out in Haiti, under the name of Operation ABLE MANNER which saw the interdiction of over 63,000 migrants illegally travelling to the US by sea. However the US government has gone a step further and introduced a “Coast Guard Liaison Officer, in Port Au Prince” (US Coastguard, 2014) in order to inspect ships and ensure that there is no one travelling illegally due to recognition of the levels of corruption in the Haitian ports. This represents the challenges for those who are unable to travel conventionally to the USA by limiting their routes of travel through stowing away.

 The failure of states to fully create and ratify the 1957 Brussels Convention on stowaways gives the stowaway a blurred idea of what rights and treatment to expect when found at sea and indeed gives states and the ships master the chance to treat them however they please. Therefore the only legal protection a stowaway would have would be the 1952 refugee convention, which I have already discussed the USA has created loopholes around in regards to interdiction and territorial waters. The Brussels convention would have enabled stowaways the ability to understand their legal position if found at various stages of their journey specifically international waters where there is no sovereign state protection. It is the lack of legal support, I argue can that can lead to the stowaway being held on board for a prolonged period of time when the shipping company has to liaise with their respective P&I insurance club or in some cases the UNHCR in order to sort out the re-patriation of the individual. The inconvenience of this can lead to stowaways being mistreated, stories of which are widespread and represent multiple violations of the stowaway’s human rights. An example is the “starvation of stowaways aboard a 420ft freighter bound for New York from Santa Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic” (McFadden, 1994) representative of the lottery of treatment a stowaway can expect even when recognised by the authorities.
The securitisation of the global cargo supply chain furthered the challenges faced by stowaways following the 9/11 attacks. This is through the establishment of the ISPS Code which was created with the purpose of “detecting security threats and taking preventative measures” (IMO, 2003) that required “preventing unauthorised access to ships” (IMO, 2003), this provided a greater challenge to those stowing away with the intention of claiming asylum as it makes them liable to be charged under counter-terror legislation which would result in them having even less rights to representation when seeking convention status. This was a policy that was built around the Safety of Life at Sea convention (SOLAS), which even in the name of the policy suggests a shift from a ‘safety’ and ‘humanitarian’ approach to an ‘objective’ and ‘securitized’ approach. The SOLAS convention doesn’t even mention stowaways, suggestive that the subsequent ISPS code has acknowledged them as a ‘threat’ as opposed within a humanitarian context.  The evolution of the global perception of stowaways has also become more sinister as it no longer entails the sense of adventure and romanticism portrayed in “the books and novels of the 1800’s” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 173), this is due to the rise of transnational crime surrounding stowing away.  This crime comes in the form of human trafficking, drug smuggling and the carrying of terrorists. This perception is evident in a recent case of stowaways being found travelling from Rio Hanna, Dominican Republic to Savannah, Georgia who were described in the press as “being found as having no links to terrorist organisations” (SavannahNow, 2002) with the shipping industry as  being “feared as the target of the next attack” (SavannahNow, 2002), representative of how the securitisation of the shipping industry can offer a challenge for stowaways if they lose their rights when held under terror charges.

Maintaining personal safety to access and whilst aboard a vessel can pose a significant challenge to the stowaway, as it poses a large risk of death. Those from Haiti who are already considered by the Human development index as in a “low state of development” (Human Development Index, 2014) may not be in the best state of health when travelling (which in many cases can be the main reason for travel) can increase their risks of personal harm. Similarly in the Dominican Republic, stowaways tend to hide on ships that are large and where they can easily conceal themselves, they utilise between “authorised and unauthorised points of entry and hide in cargo and containers” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 176) which can lead to damage to the cargo and injury to the individual when cargo shifts in turbulent seas. The biggest challenges to personal safety are demonstrated through the methods used by stowaways from both countries to board the vessel such as “as climbing up the pilot’s ladders and using the infamous stowaway pole” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 176), these methods are dangerous as they involve the stowaway swimming to the vessel in order to gain access where they risk drowning, being pulled under by tidal surges and falling from ladders. One of the most risky places for a stowaway to hide once aboard the vessel is by “accessing the rudder compartment and travelling inside until the port of embarkation” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 178), this method carries a large risk to personal safety as there is constant loud noise, risk of sea spray washing the stowaways out and ruining their supplies. In the context of the Dominican Republic and Haiti many stowaways tend to hide in containers on cargo ships “crossing the Mona passage to Puerto Rico in the hope of reaching the shores of the United States” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 183), this poses a challenge to personal safety as Dominican officials estimate that as many as “100 persons die each month trying to accomplish this goal” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 183) this is either through suffocation within the containers or the ship sinking. The large risk to personal safety taken by stowaways represents their desperation as many are willing to give up their life to try and reach the USA.
The exploitation that stowaways will likely face from smugglers offers a different challenge both in terms of personal safety and the law. Exploitation is almost guaranteed as “between 80-95% of illegal immigrants use a smuggler” (Walser, et al., 2011) in order to cross the USA’s southern border. The threat posed by using a smuggler could be in the form of financial or sexual exploitation in return for their services in aiding their journey which can affect their personal safety as well as their legal standing in any claims to asylum. The lack of development in the ports of embarkation, especially in Santa Domingo and Port Au Prince has resulted in low wages for the security officials who are responsible for carrying out pre-departure checks. “When government positions are paid worse than comparable other jobs, the moral costs of corruption are reduced.” (Abbink, 2002, p. 1), this analogy highlights the moral standing of the corruptible officer as if they have a family to feed they are more likely to accept bribes from reliable smugglers as opposed to risking their job for one off jobs that might be undercover police. The port officials in these contexts make their “real pay, by collecting bribes as they may have to pay their supervisor to get closer to the docks… in these ports it is an open secret who runs the stowaway organisations” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 174).  This situation poses several challenges for stowaways as the clique that is formed between officials and smuggling organisations can lead to the stowaway having to pay extra for a smuggler who is affiliated with a certain official just because of agreements between them even if they thought they were able to do it themselves. Further to this those travelling from the Dominican Republic and Haiti are more likely to have less money to pay the smugglers anyway, as is suggested “the average wage is no more than $3 USD a day” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 172) so the risk of corrupt officials in this context is greater. As a consequence of this the stowaway may also offer to “act as a mula (drug courier)” (McNicholas, 2007, p. 174) in way of payment or part-payment due to their limited resources.  This dramatically risks the legal position of the stowaway as if they are found with illegal narcotics on them it has potential to negatively affect their pledge for asylum and is increasing with the growing trends of transnational crime.

In summary, the challenges faced by stowaways travelling from the Dominican Republic and Haiti have always been more intense than those travelling from any other state, they have been actively discriminated against in terms of claiming asylum throughout the late 19th century and their challenges have been intensified through the securitisation of the global cargo supply chain. There is a little chance that as long as the USA continues to use a policy of deterrence against them that they will stop attempting to make the dangerous journey to Florida for the small chance of being considered on individual merit.

Jessica Simonds 
Queen's University Belfast 


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