The media can play a significant role in investigations. For instance, they can find information on smugglers, thus generating leads as to their whereabouts. Furthermore, as the criminal justice response also includes prevention, the media may assist in spreading knowledge on the smuggling phenomenon and/or networks, which may have a dissuasive or deterrent effect. Focus on a specific organized criminal group or the dangers associated with the smuggling venture may also decrease migrants' incentives to use the respective services.
The media has the potential to develop a highly informative and educative role, thus empowering potential migrants and guiding public opinion. Awareness campaigns targeted at the public need to provide accurate and objective information to potential smuggled migrants, not only about the risks associated with the crime of smuggling of migrants, but also on migration policy and procedures to allow migrants to make informed decisions.
Importantly, effective awareness-raising campaigns convey messages that can be acted upon. Raising awareness of risks associated with being smuggled (such as risks to life and safety or the risk of falling victim to crimes including trafficking in persons) will achieve little if targets of awareness-raising campaigns are not also equipped to protect themselves from these risks. Some examples of media campaigns are provided in Box 14 below.
UNHCR also advocates the need to involve local communities, in particular the diaspora, in the dissemination of information campaigns. Similarly, IOM has also implemented various information campaigns and referred to the usefulness of including prominent figures (e.g. sportsmen) in the dissemination of counter-narratives. (…) Reference was made to the possibility of developing phone applications as well as the establishment of a collaborative platform for security and mobility which can offer information and other services related to legal migration.
The 'Surprising' Europe Campaign
The Netherlands in cooperation with the EU and IOM has implemented the 'Surprising Europe' campaign, across media project consisting of an interactive website, television documentaries and a web platform. The main aim of the campaign was to raise awareness amongst migrants to inform both regular and irregular migrants of the risks of migrant smuggling. The website contained stories of migrants about their stay in and return from the EU; stories indicating the danger of discrimination, (sexual) exploitation, human trafficking, social exclusion as well as support and means to return. Moreover, documentaries and TV programs were shown in seven African countries as well as in the EU targeting also the diaspora community. Both successful as well as unsuccessful stories of migrants were shown in a balanced way aiming to provide information to migrants. Although the real impact of the campaign insofar as it has influenced migrants' decisions is unknown, experiences of the project would seem to indicate that cooperation in consortia, i.e. involvement of different partners as well as different media sources constituted good practice since consortia can lead to a more balanced message and results in a wider focus of migrants, not only those predominantly arriving in one EU Member State.
EMN, The Use of Social Media in the Fight against Migrant Smuggling, p. 4f (2016)
The Aware Migrants Campaign
The AWARE MIGRANTS campaign, an information campaign jointly developed by the Italian Ministry of Interior and the IOM Coordination Office for the Mediterranean in Rome, aims to raise awareness among potential migrants about the dangerous journey across the desert and the Mediterranean. The campaign mainly consists of videotaped stories and accounts narrated by migrants themselves. Importantly, the campaign also contains information regarding alternatives for regular migration to several EU countries.