Universiteit Leiden

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VVI Research Meeting 2023-2024

Rethinking Crimmigration through the lens of Criminal Selectivity: The selective role of criminal law in migration control at external EU borders in Croatia

  • Irina Fehr (speaker); Maartje van der Woude (Chair/discussant)
Wednesday 19 June 2024
Kamerlingh Onnes Building
Steenschuur 25
2311 ES Leiden

The ‘crimmigration’ scholarship studies the interplay between migration and criminal law, focusing on how people-on-the-move and migrant solidarity are increasingly criminalized as part of migration control efforts. However, the link between criminal law and migration control can also be found elsewhere; namely in the crimes committed by state officials during migration control, which largely go unpunished. I advocate for a more holistic understanding of the crime-migration-control nexus, integrating the (missed) opportunities of criminalizing migration control practices into the scholarly debate. First, I elaborate why criminal conduct during migration control should be embedded in crimmigration scholarship, building on critical criminology and the the lens of ‘criminal selectivity’. Second, the selective use of criminal law in migration control is analyzed based on the case study of external EU borders in Croatia. Thereby, the presentation discusses an empirically based contribution to crimmigration scholarship, which adds to the theoretical foundation underlying the use of criminal law to hold perpetrators of border violence accountable, and thus ultimately explores a legal framework that has so far been neglected in efforts to challenge illegal migration control practices in Europe.


Irina Fehr is a PhD candidate at Tilburg University, studying the role of criminal law in migration control at external EU borders in Croatia. Her interdisciplinary research focuses on criminalization of migration and crimes committed during migration control. Her doctoral project is at the juncture of EU migration law and policy, criminal law, and border criminology, building on critical theory and combining legal and ethnographic methods. She holds a socio-legal M.A. in European Global Studies and a B.A. in Political Science and Modern History from the universities of Basel and Zurich, Switzerland.

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