A beam of light in the dark: UNODC supports Moroccan journalists’ role in countering human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Rabat, Morocco – 3 March 2024

“We now understand the vulnerabilities of the victims. We looked closely at the stories of previous victims and migrants, and we see the different points of exploitation.”

The media have a large role to play in mobilizing public support and involvement to help prevent and counter human trafficking and migrant smuggling. Owing to their reach and their ability to mold public opinion, they are a powerful tool for social change. By writing an article or broadcasting an item focusing on trafficking or smuggling, the media not only educate the public but also shine a light on an issue often shrouded in darkness.

UNODC partnered with Moroccan authorities to hold a series of trainings for journalists and media professionals on best practices and technical and ethical standards on media coverage of human trafficking and migrant smuggling crimes.

In partnership with the National Countering Trafficking in Persons Commission, the Ministry of Communications, and the National School of Journalism, the first training brought together 26 journalists and reporters from Casablanca, Marrakech, and Rabat. The series of trainings are within the framework of the “Preventing and Combatting Smuggling of Migrants in MENA” project, which is funded by Austria. 

“We now understand the vulnerabilities of the victims. We looked closely at the stories of previous victims and migrants, and we saw the different points of exploitation. Such sessions are vital, so we understand the important terms and concepts on both these crimes as they are very complex,” Fatma Bakry, a Moroccan journalist who attended the training told UNODC.

The trainings provided the journalists with the necessary knowledge and understanding of empathy for the complexities of human trafficking and migrant smuggling. This was coupled with the tools they need to cover stories in a way that respects the rights and dignity of victims, avoiding re-traumatization or exploitation through media exposure. At the same time, the sessions stressed the importance of fact-checking and avoiding the dissemination of misleading or incorrect information, which boosts media credibility and trust.

Malak El Almy, a journalist attending commented that “understanding the core differences between human trafficking and migrant smuggling will allow our coverage to not be superficial and actually provide the necessary respect to the victims.”

“There is a big role to raise the awareness of the society in partnership with the National Commission…we were glad to look in depth at the necessary psychological and legal considerations when covering both crimes…. we hope the recommendations we discuss can be applied to support the capacities of more journalists on the subject,” Mohamed Essraa, journalist, affirmed.

Through such understanding, the trainings allowed the journalists to understand the importance of their role in shaping societal views and public opinion on human trafficking and migrant smuggling, in highlighting the severity and impact on individuals and communities, and in pushing for stronger policies and legislation aimed at countering both crimes and holding perpetrators accountable.