Human writes: top tips for journalists covering migration and trafficking

By Shariful Hasan, former senior reporter of Prothom Alo, and now the head of BRAC’s migration programme.

As a journalist, the foundation of my profession is ethics and values. Good journalists are honest, bold, courteous, compassionate, humble, curious and creative. These all are essential in the field of migration and trafficking too. Truthfulness, accuracy, objectivity, impartiality, fairness and public accountability are the basics of journalism.

These all are same in the field of migration. When IOM invited me to share my experience to the journalists I have asked them to follow ten things for reporting on migration and trafficking. These are:

  1. Show humanity
  2. Write the facts not bias
  3. Know the law
  4. Speak for all
  5. Do no harm to anybody
  6. Know your subject and assess the risks
  7. Don’t offer advice or make promises that you cannot fulfill
  8. Ensure anonymity and confidentiality
  9. Listen to and respect each victim
  10. Do not re-traumatize.

The training I spoke at was attended by 15 journalists from Narsingdi, Narayanganj and Kishoreganj. Facilitated by IOM Bangladesh, the training aimed to build the capacity of journalists reporting on human trafficking. Other key topics included the definition of human trafficking, statistics on human trafficking and migration, what makes people vulnerable to human trafficking, and legal information.

Journalist training in Bangladesh

In the field of migration a journalist should listen to people and being a genuine and empathic person. Reporting on migration and trafficking demands a higher level of understanding of trauma. So whenever we talk to the victims we should understand his condition. Children and girls are the prime victim of human trafficking. So, before talking with them or taking photos we should ask for consent and should be more careful on reporting.

Video: journalist journalists training in Dhaka

The facts on how are Bangladeshis are migrating today

Migration is incredibly important for Bangladesh, and the facts show why:

  • Each year, nearly half a million workers leave Bangladesh for overseas employment. In 2017 the number was 1,008,525.
  • According to UN the world counted 258 million international migrants in 2017, representing 3.4 per cent of global population.
  • According to Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) from 1976 to 2017 more than 11 million people went abroad as labor migrants.
  • Migrants from Bangladesh sent USD 176.2 billion in remittances during this time.

Human trafficking is one of the fastest-growing transnational crimes and a serious violation of human rights. So, not only migration trafficking is also an important issues for Bangladesh. Our media should be more focused on these.

Bangladeshi’s face many problems during their journey. These include: high fees for migration charged by recruitment agencies, low wages, lack of information, discrimination, exploitation and abuse and deficient services to protect the rights of workers. As journalists, we can help by reporting on migration management and ensuring people are protected with decent employment.

Where to find more information

If anybody wants to report on migration and trafficking he may go to Ministry Of expatriate welfare and oversees employment, Ministry of Home and Ministry of Foreign affairs. BMET, Wage Earners Welfare Board (WEWB), Dhaka Shahjalal International Airport, BAIRA these are also good sources.

In district level local journalist can go District Employment and Manpower Office (DEMO), DC offices, Local police stations and to the victims and to the families. But before covering Journalist should have the knowledge on migration, immigration and trafficking law in his own country and the global scenario.

Find more information here: (English here)

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