Penal humanitarianism? Sovereign power in an era of mass migration

Mary Bosworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Since creating the 'Returns and Reintegration Fund' in 2008, the British
government has financed a variety of initiatives around the world under the
rubric of "managing migration" which have blurred the boundaries between
migration control and punishment. This article documents and explores a series
of overlapping case studies undertaken in Nigeria and Jamaica where the UK
funded prison building programs, mandatory prisoner transfer agreements,
prison training programs and resettlement assistance for deportees. These
initiatives demonstrate in quite concrete ways a series of interconnections
between criminal justice and migration control that are both novel and, in their
postcolonial location, familiar. In their ties to international development and
foreign policy they also illuminate how humanitarianism allows penal power to
move beyond the nation state. In so doing, these overseas programs raise
important questions about our understanding of punishment and its application.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39-65
Number of pages27
JournalNew Criminal Law Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Punishment
  • mass migration
  • sovereignty
  • Jamaica
  • Nigeria
  • penal humanitarianism
  • colonialism

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