UNODC launches test of migrant smuggling data collection system

Bangkok (Thailand), 2 October 2012 - The UNODC Regional Centre for East Asia and the Pacific launched on 1 October a pilot program to gather information on migrant smuggling and on irregular migration.

More than 10 countries from Europe, Asia Pacific, and North America will participate in the pilot phase of UNODC's Voluntary Reporting System on Migrant Smuggling and Related Conduct (VRS-MSRC).

Developed in close consultation with law enforcement authorities from countries and international organizations in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and North America, the VRS-MSRC is an internet-based, secure IT solution that facilitates the collection, sharing, and use for analytical purposes of data.

The purpose of VRS-MSRC is to strengthen strategic analysis of migrant smuggling to inform policy development at inter-regional, regional, and national levels.

The VRS-MSRC is a tool that will provide participating states with secure up-to-date information at the click of a button. Based upon the principle of mutual information sharing, only states that provide data will have access to information provided by other states.

Participating countries can use the VRS-MSRC to share information on issues such as: a quantitative assessment of flows; major routes used; fees paid; transportation means and methods; a profile of irregular and smuggled migrants; and a profile of migrant smugglers.

UNODC developed the VRS-MSRC in support of the Bali Process.

At the 4th Bali Process Ministerial Conference: "Ministers agreed to strengthen engagement on information and intelligence sharing underscoring the high value and utility that would derive from enhanced information sharing. In this regard, Ministers welcomed assistance from UNODC in establishing a voluntary reporting system on migrant smuggling and related conduct in support of the Bali Process."

In May 2012, the Bali Process Steering Group - composed of Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Thailand, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, (UNHCR) - endorsed UNODC's proposal to conduct a pilot phase of the VRS-MSRC prior to its full launch.