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A Must Read for Seasoned Migration Journalists

Below are the full details of the charter relating to the use of terminology as launched at International Organisation for Migration (IOM), in Tunisia on Tuesday December 10, 2019.

Charter for ethical reporting on migration

The Migration Media Charter is a collaborative effort between journalists, migrants and people working in migrant policy organisations, compiled by Migrants’ Rights Network and People & Planet.

The Pledges

1. Drop the word ‘illegal’

2. Migrants are not to blame

3. Migrants are neither ‘deserving’ nor ‘undeserving’

4. Put migrants on platforms and in newsrooms

5. Cover the positive stories of migration

6. Interview respectfully

7. Stay with the story

8. Headline responsibly

9. Raise awareness of the root causes of displacement

10. Interrogate the immigration enforcement industry

1. Drop the word ‘illegal’

Currently, ‘illegal’ is the most common precursor to ‘immigrant’ in UK newspaper headlines.

Not only is it dehumanising when referring to a human being – their identity seemingly criminalised – but also inaccurate: the majority of cases are processed through civil rather than criminal courts.

Using ‘illegal’ exposes people suspected of being undocumented to misrepresentation or abuse.

The word ‘illegal’ must never be used to describe any migrant, unless it is in a direct quote.

Journalists should not divulge the migration status of any person they report on without the full, informed consent of the subject.

Ask yourself: How is an interviewee’s migration status relevant to the story? What better terms can be used for migrants without the correct documentation?

2. Migrants are not to blame

Media coverage around migration often suggests it contributes to an overall decline in living standards – from public service and housing shortages to community tensions and violent crime.

Migrant workers have been blamed for depleting wages and labour quality for non-migrant workers because they will accept lower pay and conditions, despite most people having little say over their specific terms of work.

Calls to slow labour decline or improve access to local services by tightening immigration controls ignore the evidence that restricting ‘official’ avenues through which some people can migrate may force others to use ‘unofficial’ migration channels, leading to a larger pool of precarious people vulnerable to poor living and working conditions.

Migrants are not to blame for low wages, job scarcity, housing shortages or exhausting public services.

Journalists should frame migration issues responsibly, and consider placing the duty for the quality of labour conditions or local services away from migrants towards those with the power to change it.

Ask yourself: How can the story be reframed in a way that does not place blame on migrants seeking a better life? What are the structural causes of low pay or overextended local services?

READ  Experts speak on importance of accurate data on migration to implement GCM

3. Migrants are neither ‘deserving’ nor ‘undeserving’

Migrants escaping persecution are often portrayed as more deserving of public support than those deemed as migrating simply for ’economic’ reasons.

Notwithstanding that fleeing poverty or moving in search of a dignified life are basic human rights, the simplistic categories of ‘deserving’ and ‘undeserving’ migrants misrepresent the myriad reasons why people choose to migrate – for example, the economic causes of migration may have been exacerbated by environmental devastation or political conflict at home.

People rarely migrate for a single reason and should not to be artificially divided – implicitly or explicitly – into ‘deserving’ or ‘undeserving’ categories.

Journalists should recognise the negative connotations of using terms such as ‘economic migrant’.

Ask yourself: What reasons drive people to migrate other than the purely economic?

Is your subject happy to be termed an ‘economic migrant’ or can they be better described?

4. Put migrants on platforms and in newsrooms

The underrepresentation of migrants in the media has allowed negative reporting to go unchecked, leading to a one-sided, ‘us’ versus ‘them’ migration narrative to take root.

Considering that the ‘immigration debate’ dominates the headlines, accompanying stories are rarely written by those with direct experience of migration.

An increased representation of Britain’s migrant community across the industry will better reflect diversity of opinion and help address the imbalance in migration coverage.

Media outlets can benefit from a more diverse workforce and set the standard by hiring more journalists with direct experience of migration, including writers of colour.

The industry should improve access to journalism schools or spokesperson and media training for people from migrant backgrounds.

Ask yourself: How is migration coverage affected by the lack of migrant representation in the media?

What additional support for migrant journalists can be provided by the industry?

5. Cover the positive stories of migration

While it is important to raise awareness of the injustices faced by migrants, it can be easy to slip into a narrative of victimisation.

Migrants are not simply passive subjects – they are in charge of their actions and movements, playing a proactive role in our communities, often leading struggles against the oppression they may face.

The media can help audiences better understand the reality and complexity of migration in the UK by carrying the positive stories or offering migrant communities the opportunity to relate their own experiences unfiltered.

Media outlets pursuing migration stories should build positive relationships with migrant community networks and invite them to contribute to coverage.

Journalists should consider integrating everyday examples of migrant agency into their reporting of migration where possible.

Ask yourself: In what ways can I enrich my story by speaking to people with direct experience of migration?

READ  Hope dims for 319 Nigerians seeking evacuation as Canada turns down local carrier

How can I ensure my subject is not viewed simply as a ‘victim’ but rather a person with agency?

6. Interview respectfully

Many migrants interviewed by journalists have subsequently felt unhappy with how their lives have been portrayed – their stories published out of context, in some cases carrying identifiable information putting them at risk.

The informed consent of interviewees must always be granted – building trust between journalists and migrant communities will lead to richer stories and make future collaboration more likely.

Ensure that all interviewees are made aware of the full scope of the story being written.

Journalists should make every effort to run the story past their interviewees before submission.

Ask yourself: What support services can be provided to avoid traumatising interviewees?

Are any details included which may put interviewees at risk once the story is published?

7. Stay with the story

The circulation of misleading, often inaccurate information around migration policy in the press may stem from a lack of awareness of the legal, social and economic causes and consequences.

Media has a duty to consider the human cost of political decision-making and keep audiences informed of new research, legislative changes and the implications for migrants.

Media outlets should raise awareness of significant policy shifts that may have gone unnoticed and consider their impact upon migrant communities.

Journalists should build relationships with specialists, especially those in migrant-led organisations, with whom they can consult when considering evidence or seeking advice on migration stories.

Ask yourself: How will a government policy announcement affect the lives of migrant communities upon implementation?

How have the lives of migrant interviewees changed six months on from a story?

8. Headline responsibly

Provocative headlines reporting inflammatory statements around migration often set the agenda for public discussion and significantly impact on migrant communities.

Ill-informed comments from publicity-seeking figures have all too often guided the press narrative on migration as under-resourced reporters have little time to research issues, go out into the field, or build relationships with experts and migrants themselves before submitting stories.

Journalists should consider the intent of the people they platform and the consequences for migrant communities once their stories are published.

Media outlets must ensure that a lack of resources or staff will not affect the accuracy of their migration coverage.

Ask yourself: In what ways are the people you platform experts in migration matters and why is their perspective in the public interest?

Will more time and support for your story produce a fairer portrait of migration?

9. Raise awareness of the root causes of displacement

While immigration garners vast media attention, the root causes of why people migrate is often missing from coverage.

READ  Conflicts, disasters displace 12 million children in 2019- UNICEF

Migration is a legitimate strategy for escaping hardship – offering audiences regular, considered coverage of the systemic causes of displacement not only helps improve understanding among the general public, it also encourages a culture of empathy towards those who migrate.

Media can play a role in normalising discussions around the histories of social conflict, economic instability, military intervention and environmental insecurity inextricably connected to contemporary migration.

Journalists reporting on individual migrants or specific patterns of migration should make every effort to sensitively outline the full context as to why people have migrated.

Ask yourself: What are the reasons behind migration which migrants themselves had no control over? Have people migrated from a region where economic and environmental insecurity or social and political instability are prevalent?

10. Interrogate the immigration enforcement industry

At vast public cost, the state and private companies work together to build and maintain detention centres for migrants, many of whom have fled war or torture and often suffer debilitating mental and physical health.

The system of detention, deportation and wider immigration enforcement displays a lack of accountability, denying journalists and civil society access to facilities and leaving migrants vulnerable.

Detainees witness riots, assaults and suicides, there is a shortage of care or community work experience among front-line staff, and public servants are co-opted to report on those deemed to have infringed immigration guidelines.

Media outlets and civil society should put more resources into interrogating the immigration enforcement industry and the decades-long increase in the incarceration of migrants.

Reporters should consider seeking access to immigration detention centres, and where possible build relationships with detainees and those affected by broader immigration enforcement policies.

Ask yourself: How am I able to speak to migrants with experience of detention or deportation? Which public bodies cooperate with the immigration enforcement industry and to whom are they accountable?

By signing up to these principles, I am committing to upholding them in my work.

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Opinions

IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre releases report on ‘Migration from and within West and North Africa’

International Organisation of Migration (

 IOM’s Global Migration Data Analysis Centre released the newly edited volume “Migration in West and North Africa And Across the Mediterranean: Trends, Risks, Development, Governance”. This publication is the result of a highly collaborative effort involving several IOM offices and organizations participating in the programme: Safety, Support and Solutions II (SSSII) funded by the United Kingdom Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) as well as other international, non-governmental and civil society organizations, and research institutions.

Timely, reliable, disaggregated data and contextual information related to people on the move are imperative for well-informed, well-managed and humane policymaking on migration. A nuanced understanding of migration realities is especially important in contexts such as North and West Africa and the Central Mediterranean, where migration movements result from a combination of different and complex factors.

This volume, divided in four sections, dedicated to migration trends risks, development, and governance, focuses on West and North Africa, and mostly covers the period 2018–2019. Its four sections deal with four of the most salient features of migration along the Central Mediterranean Route: recent trends and data issues, development implications, risks and vulnerabilities, as well as national, regional and cross-regional governance elements. The report provides a comprehensive, fact-based account of migration from and within West and North Africa and across the Mediterranean, with the aim of promoting more coherent, forward-looking and sustainable policy approaches, in line with the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

READ  Conflicts, disasters displace 12 million children in 2019- UNICEF

There are eight main take-aways from this volume:

  1. Recognize migrants’ agency: migrants from West and North Africa adopt flexible mobility-based strategies to contribute to their own and their communities’ resilience and development.
  2. Address inequalities in migration: Migrants adapt their mobility-based strategies to changing policies, labour market opportunities, border controls and risks.
  3. Understand linkages between migrants’ profiles and circumstances, and exposure to risks and their ability to cope with them.
  4. Ensure the basic rights of migrants irrespective of their legal status.
  5. Recognize the complexity of migrant smuggling.
  6. Deconstruct misconceptions and fears about African migration.
  7. Support policies informed by evidence and monitor their impact.
  8. Produce and analyze administrative data to inform opinions and governments.

This publication is released at a time of great uncertainty regarding migration and changing socioeconomic dynamics around the world, especially during the ongoing global health crisis COVID-19, which further exacerbates pre-existing vulnerabilities. However, this volume is anticipated to improve evidence on migration in these regions, and its use for programming and policy in the wider context of migration governance

READ  IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre releases report on 'Migration from and within West and North Africa'

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Experts speak on importance of accurate data on migration to implement GCM

Global migration experts have suggested that countries should ensure having adequate and accurate data of outgoing and returning migrant workers to take effective interventions at the national levels to protect the migrants during this COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Speaking at the first session of the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) webinar series held on Tuesday (September 1), they underscored the need for collecting and utilizing disaggregated migration data to promote safe, orderly and regular migration.
The webinar series happened under part of the six months Certificate Programme on “Global Compact for Safe Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM)” hosted by Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), Cross Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants (CCRM), Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT), and the Civil Society Action Committee (CSAC).
MFA regional coordinator William Gois who moderated the sessions threw the volley of questions before the expert panelists to highlight what kind of data actually needed for the countries as these data helped them shaping the migration policies.
He said that the respective countries themselves should determine what kind of data especially on remittance and migration, returning migrants they need for collection to take measures including the reintegration of the COVID affected returnees.
William said that although collecting and utilizing accurate and disaggregated data becomes ‘the first objective of the GCM but it is not the easy objective to work with.’
About 500 participants joined the webinar discussed that the UN member states agreed on the goals of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) for managing international migration in all dimensions.
The non-binding GCM encompassed a total of 23 objectives for better managing migration at local, national, regional and global levels.
The Objective 1 of the GCM begins with a commitment to collect and utilize accurate and disaggregated data as a basis for evidence-based policies.
Speaking a panelist, Bela Hovy, Chief of Publications, Outreach and Support Unit in UN DESA highlighted the importance of migration data for implementation of the global compact for migration.
“Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration is extremely practical. We don’t need further guidance. In fact, let us make it work. There are lots of low-hanging fruits but quite few actions can be easily implemented. We cannot progress on data in our daily works step by step bottom up,” Bela said.
A presentation was made on background history of the GCM, an intergovernmentally negotiated agreement, prepared under the auspices of the United Nations that covered all dimensions of international migration in a holistic and comprehensive manner.
It was formally endorsed by the United Nations General Assembly on 19 December 2018.
In his concluding remarks, Bela Hovy stressed the need for collecting accurate and disaggregated data on migration to simultaneously implement the 2030 agenda and the GCM in all spheres.
Echoing the importance of migration data, Sonia Plaza, Senior Economist in the Finance, Competitiveness and Innovation Global Practice of the World Bank, mentioned that Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) included the issues of migrant workers who were affected by the COVID-19 among other stakeholders.
She said that the impact of COVID has been detrimental disturbing the flows of the migrants and remittances of the different countries. Besides, migration became affected as many countries were in wars and others have been facing economic recessions, she said.
Sonia Plaza emphasized on collaboration of the civil society organizations, international bodies and relevant stakeholders to collect data of the migration as “policies can be based on data on remittances and migrant workers.”
“We have the GCM to improve the international comparability and comfortability of data on migration,” said Sonia Plaza.
Dr S. Irudaya Rajan, Professor, Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA) Research Unit on International Migration at the Centre for Development Studies, Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, also spoke as panelist at the webinar.
Raising the context of Indian migrant workers and Non- Resident Indians, Prof Rajan said that there was no specific data of the Indian migrants badly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown imposed by their government to control spread of coronavirus fully stopped mobility of migrant workers in India, he noted that data was very important to manage COVID but nobody knew how many Indian migrants got stranded abroad and how many of them returned home.
Migration specialist Sara Salman, who is representing the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia said that accessible data had been the preconditions to achieving the rest 22 objectives of GCM.
She said that if there were no reliable data on migration, it would not be possible to see the migration from 360-degree vision.
Migration Governance analyst of Zambia Paddy Siyanga Knudsen, Bangladesh’s former foreign secretary Shahidul Haque and Shabari Nair, of Labour Migration Specialist for South Asia, based in the ILO Decent Work Technical Support Team (DWT) in New Delhi, among others also spoke at the webinar.

READ  IOM's Global Migration Data Analysis Centre releases report on 'Migration from and within West and North Africa'

 

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We have built brains working for NIS- Babandede

 

57 years ago, the Federal Government of Nigeria promulgated a law to establish Immigration Department now known as Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), in this interview with a team of migration journalists, the Comptroller General of NIS, Muhammad Babandede, MFR reflects on the activities of the agency and his desire for the establishment.

NIS has come of age since August 1, 1963, how will you rate its impact on the economy?

During the colonial era many people assumed immigration was all about stopping the ‘enemies’ from entering, and on the other hand prevent citizens from exiting the nation. As the global economy progresses, immigration develops links with the economy. In last few years that I have been on board as Comptroller General of Immigration (CGI), we have been looking at the relationship between the economy and immigration. Although, we are not revenue generating agency however if you look at what we have been able to generate in last five years, we have made appreciable impacts on the economy. The NIS internally generated revenue in naira was N25 billion in 2015. After I assumed office in 2016, we generated N36 billion. In 2017, we netted N38 billion, in 2018, it was N39 billion and in 2019, we made N52 billion. While we are not operating like a business agency, we are helping to build the economy through remittance to the national pulse and partnership with Nigerian companies generating revenue for the government. Aside that, we have been able to contribute to the growth of foreign exchange earnings such that between 2015 and 2019, we made $29 million, $30 million, $29 million, $36 million and $41 million respectively. All went directly into the government pulse. A very interesting dimension is the introduction of 79 visa categories by the NIS that is encouraging income to nation.

How has the visa increment from six to 79 categories improved the immigration policy and the economy, also what informed that decision?

Governance in the 20th century encompasses review of socio economic policies. During the colonial era, aliens were regarded as people who were not citizens of Commonwealth nations in Nigeria. When I became the CGI, we changed that political concept to migrant which is the global language of migration to determine people who are coming here for whether short, temporal or permanent stay. Simply put, if you are not a Nigerian citizen here you are a migrant. In relation to visa categories, for example, for those coming to fix machines for industries, we created short visit visa for them so also business people have their visa classifications, ditto for sports, health, religion and others with work permits. While selecting these categories of people, we have a duty to pick those who will make sense to the economy. Visa on arrival can be accessed by any qualified persons instead of traveling back to their country of resident or national. This is a major economic development between the immigration service and investors.

READ  Nigeria Immigration boss subdues Coronavirus

With huge investment and energy put into digitalization at the NIS headquarters, how do you intend to cope with the challenge of maintenance?

I agree with you that there are challenges of electricity and internet connection, but we have solved the problem of power to a large extent by connecting to the solar energy and electric inverter. For interment, though, we rely on galaxy but we are sourcing for other alternatives. Concerning maintenance and sustainability, I am happy to inform you that all our machines and equipments are now being installed and managed by the NIS officers because we have built their capacities to a level that we don’t need to look for consultants to do most of our services in relation to that. The brains have been developed and they are now working for us.

Many Nigerians at different times have expressed concern over porous nature of the nation’s borders in some areas, how is immigration addressing this?

When we talk about digitalization of NIS operations, border management is also involved. Frankly, one cannot address the challenges involved through manual approach only. We digitalized because we want transparent, quick, effective actions and services. There is no way the 25,000 immigration officers in Nigeria can patrol the verse land and sea border posts without digital equipment. To address the issues, we have developed a curriculum for land and sea border by training the border patrol corps specially. We now have as many as 84 management posts. We also have established additional 15 Forward Operational (FOB) Base stations equipped with patrol commanders, domestic facilities, patrol vehicles, armory and digital vices connected to the national grid where officers can reside while manning their different border posts. Now NIS operates e-border government approval. Border strategic plans and policies developed by the NIS for 2019-2023 are being implemented. As the first contact at the border, if there are issues beyond us we are in a position to involve the navy, military and the police. The border management system is such that accommodates biometrics of migrants and capture their identities. At different times, several people have been tracked and arrested for trying to either enter or leave Nigeria illegally via digital process. This month alone, 37 of them were arrested and have been prosecuted. In all we do, we also relate and carry along the border communities too.

READ  We have built brains working for NIS- Babandede

Last year, the American government pronounced suspension of issuance of non-immigrant visa to Nigerians over failure to comply with certain security details, how was the matter resolved?

America did not ban Nigeria from accessing their visa categories rather they only restricted certain classes of people from being employed. We have done what they required from us. For instance, the issue of lost and found passport to invalidate the use of such document anywhere had been complied with. Once you appeared at the border, all the features about your data would be revealed accurately. We have complied with the security details as requested and they were satisfied. Nigeria now uploads on Interpol base on data relating to passports matters. It is a credit to our country that we achieved such feat even though America imposed it.

Thousand of NIS officers are being promoted under your leadership, what are other things to expect?

We have done well by promoting thousands of officers, by building barracks, commands, local government offices and the FOB as transit camps for officers at the border. All these were not there before. Every worker desires promotion even some that have retired got promoted because while in service they sat for promotion exams but for one reason or the other could not be approved for next rank. We have elevated them accordingly because it was not their fault. Out 29 Assistant Comptroller Generals (ACG), 15 of them have retired but they still got their rank and we are proud to do that. I will continue to sustain promotion and build accommodation units to make officers comfortable. We have identified a company with pedigree after due diligence that has fashioned out mortgage plans for officers that will make them own their own houses as they progress in the service. This is a year of enforcement of all our visa rules. Every migrant in Nigeria must comply with the dictate of the approved visa. For example you cannot come into Nigeria with a visa to install machine in a company and you are doing the opposite, we shall follow up on you and ensure that you are returned to your country immediately. I had personally arrested Indian selling things at Kano market on this. So, all the comptrollers and senior officers including the CGI Special Monitoring Team as backup to keep commands on their toes must rise to the visa enforcement. Nigerians’ labour and jobs must be protected.

READ  Human trafficking generates billions in profit at the expense of victims- A-TIPSOM

What is driving force behind your achievements so far?

  1. I believe leadership should not be by accident. I became the CGI in May, 2016 and by July that year, I had already formed a team and we went for a retreat in Kano. When I assumed office I was dissatisfied with the state of facilities at many of our state commands. I set a target of completing and commissioning at least two new immigration offices in a year. In 2017 I was able to complete offices in Kano and Jigawa states. In 2018, we completed that of Plateau and Abia states. In 2019, Adamawa and Zamfara states offices got commissioned. In 2020, we had commissioned NIS office in Kwara state. As I speak with you Enugu and Nasarawa states’ offices and three others are ready for unveiling. What I am saying in essence is that a leader must have a plan and must be able to task himself with a deadline to achieve because success doesn’t happen by accident.How are you looking forward to the future?
    My dream is to produce a better person to succeed me as CGI. That will be my greatest achievement. If the institution did not produce someone that is better than me, then I have not succeeded. Development of NIS as an institution is paramount to me as officer in charge now. All the senior officers from the rank of comptroller and above, I have ensured that they all partake in leadership training in the area of emotion intelligence and other skills to prepare them for the future.

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Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.

For continued free access to the best and latest migration, trafficking, displacement and humanitarian reports including thorough investigative reports in these areas, we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.

By contributing to VOICE FOR AFRICAN MIGRANTS, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
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