How to cover Migration on Media? 7 recommendations for Journalists

 

One picture travelled around the world and soared charity donations. One broadcast played a crucial role in creating the atmosphere of charged racial hostility that allowed for a genocide to occur. We are talking about the iconic photo of the body of 3-year-old Syrian refugee, Alan Kurdi, and the Radio Télévision Libre des Mille Collines convicted for inciting in April to July 1994 the Rwandan genocide. However, media coverage is not only positive or negative.

According to the World Migration Report 2018, media, in all its forms, plays a significant role in the framing of policy discourses that affect how people act, what people think, how policymakers prioritize agendas, and how migrants make decisions. Given this, it raises the question: How should journalists and media professionals approach a complicated and diverse issue such as Migration?

For this purpose, we provide a list of recommendations to improve reporting on migrants and migrations from a human rights-based approach:

  • Words matter. Journalists often employ inexact terms like “illegal” “aliens” or fail to distinguish between asylum seekers, migrants, refugees and the rights and the protection they are entitled under international law. Examine the terminology you use, consult IOM´s  Glossary on Migration and/or seek capacity-building opportunities and online workshops to understand migration.
  • Respect the dignity of migrants. Avoid the use of dehumanizing language and metaphors that cast migration as form of a natural disaster (often a flood), or migrants as animals, especially insects (“swarms”).
  • Challenge hate speech. Avoid stereotypical, negative expressions referring to the ethnic origin of suspects, for instance, crime reports emphasizing the legal stay status of a person. The Ethical Journalism Initiative has developed a helpful tool and reminds journalists that just because someone said something outrageous it doesn’t make it newsworthy.
  • Connect with migrants. Include a variety of sources, engage with migrants, refugee groups, activists and NGOs that can provide vital information. It is important to include the voice of migrants and reflect the human aspect of Migration, advocate and report on humanitarian crisis and/or violation of human rights at hand, the contrary may reduce migrant’s livelihood and dignity to a problem or a number to be debated over in public discourse.  
  • Ensure a balanced coverage. Avoid victimization and over simplification. In most cases, migrants are perceived in extremes, either as a problem or as victim. Challenge these notions and promote other aspects of migration, for example, cover the stories of successful artists, diasporas, remittances and the contribution of migrants to development in your country.
  • Adopt an International focus. Place the migration story in a global context, local or national interests may predominate at the expense of a wider understanding of the migration and the reasons for it. Framing migration as a conflict between nations may highlight the differences and disparate views of certain individuals or governments officials at the expense of migrant’s rights, integrity and dignity.
  • Promote evidence-based public discourse. Make use of accurate information and resources, understand that correlation does not mean causation, be transparent and share with the public resources to further explore the topic at hand. Confront, fact-check and analyze statements to hold accountable authorities, educate the public and contribute to a deeper understanding of migration.

In the rise of xenophobic and anti-migrant discourses, as stated by IOM in Migration Initiatives 2019 - Migration governance: From commitments to actions: media professionals and journalists have an important role in shaping perceptions. Follow these recommendations and counter negative attitudes and behavior towards migrants by raising awareness on risks or situations of human rights violations faced by migrants and advocating for them to stop.

 

Want to know more?

Under full respect for the freedom of media, the vast majority of the UN member states have also agreed on eliminating all forms of discrimination and promote evidence-based public discourse to shape perceptions of migration, in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goals (8.8, 10.3, 10.7, 16.b)

 

Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) 

Objective 17 c)

Promote independent, objective and quality reporting of media outlets, including internet-based information, including sensitizing and educating media professional on migration related issues and terminology, investing in ethical reporting standards and advertising, and stopping allocation of public funding or material support to media outlets that systematically promote intolerance, xenophobia, racism and other forms of discrimination towards migrants, in full respect for the freedom of the media.

 

USEFUL RESOURCES & TOOLS

Ethical Journalism Institute

https://ethicaljournalismnetwork.org/what-we-do/media-and-migration

Training Modules on Labour Migration for Media Professionals, International Labour Organization

https://www.ilo.org/beirut/WCMS_330309/lang--en/index.htm

Media and Trafficking in Human Beings – Guidelines

https://www.icmpd.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Media_and_THB_Guidelines_EN_WEB.pdf

Charter of Rome for reporting on migrants and refugees

http://www.media-diversity.org/en/additional-files/documents/A%20Guides/Charter_of_Rome.pdf

The Camden Principles on Freedom of Expression and Equality

https://www.article19.org/data/files/pdfs/standards/the-camden-principles-on-freedom-of-expression-and-equality.pdf

Media Diversity Institute

http://www.media-diversity.org/en/

The Media Project

https://themediaproject.org/ethics-standards/

 

 

 


Extortion is Causing the Expulsion of Migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America

Extortion is Causing the Expulsion of Migrants from the Northern Triangle of Central America
Categoria: Migrant Protection and Assistance
Autor: Guest Contributor

In cases of forced displacement, extortion is often mentioned as one of the main causes. However, extortion is located within a cycle of violence, such sexual violence, murder, etc., and it is difficult to identify a single incident of extortion as the sole reason for leaving a country.

Although its definition varies depending on national legislation, extortion can be understood as the use of threats, intimidation and other acts of violence to obtain actions or goods from another person against their will, as defined by the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Environmental Funds (REDLAC), in a special bulletin dedicated to this issue and upon which this post is based.

In the context of migration, kidnapping and extortion go hand-in-hand, as smugglers often extort money from migrants by threatening to kidnap their relatives. Extortion can also be committed in the other direction: relatives of migrants who have already arrived in another country are extorted by smugglers, demanding money from them so as not to harm the family member who has already migrated. This can often lead to persecution in communities of origin and destination.

In Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, the serious issue of personal insecurity fuelled by drug trafficking and corruption has marked the region as one of the most violent on the planet, according to Amnesty International. In this context, extortion schemes demanding payments from local markets and small businesses are commonplace in gang-controlled territories. However, depending on the country, there can also be extortion demands  placed on homes, such as in Guatemala, where this accounts for 55% of extortion complaints.

There is also a difference between the type and impact of extortion experienced by men, women, children and the LGBTIQ+ population. In this sense, when women are extorted for money, threats are often combined with the intimidating possibility of sexual violence. According to the REDLAC bulletin, the bodies of women, adolescents, and girls are treated as territory for revenge and control while children are being increasingly recruited as rent collectors, among other functions.

Migrants are often also extorted by people who are not part of criminal groups but who take advantage of their vulnerable situation to turn a profit, such as locals who demand payment to cross private land rather than using routes with criminal gangs, or transporters who demand money from irregular migrants in exchange for not reporting them to immigration authorities. The same situation has been reported with employers who, on pay-day, threaten to report migrant workers for an irregular migrant status.

There are currently no figures on the number of people displaced or forced to migrate due to extortion in northern Central America, as this is part of a generalised climate of violence; however, some organisations locate this crime as one of the main reasons for migration from areas or even from the country.

 

Extortion during the pandemic

In the bulletin of the Network of Latin American and Caribbean Environmental Funds (REDLAC) which examines extortion as a trigger for internal displacement and forced migration in northern Central America and Mexico, some relevant points were also made about how extortion has adapted to the context of COVID-19:

  • In El Salvador, COVID-19 has reduced the income of gangs, but they have not lost territorial control. Some gangs have established restrictions, such as allowing one individual per family to make food purchases, to reduce the risk that a gang member may become ill and not be able to access medical care.
  • In Honduras, the paralysis of the transportation and informal trade sectors, generally common sectors for extortion, has registered a decrease in cases of extortion due to the pandemic. However, there have been reports of threats of retroactive charges once commerce resumes, house-to-house tariffs, and road ‘tolls’, and scams executed by gangs. Food distributors are frequent victims of extortion when entering communities.
  • In Guatemala, extortion has not stopped either, although at the beginning of the pandemic some maras (gangs) granted ‘pardons’ in their communities. However, national agencies predict that when the restrictive measures end, there will be an increase in other crimes and that extortion will return as a greater threat.
  • Mobility restrictions increase the risk of people being trapped in violent environments, making it difficult to seek support in other territories and countries. Despite this, many people seek and will continue to seek irregular migration options, despite the dangers of the pandemic, in order to leave the high-violence, low-income contexts in which they live.