Experts on migrant smuggling gather at BE EMN NCP roundtable
Today, key Belgian stakeholders in the fight against migrant smuggling discussed inter alia the use of social media in migrant smuggling at a round-table organized by the Belgian Contact Point of the EMN.
The Belgian Contact Point of the European Migration Network (EMN) gathered some 40 key actors in the fight against migrant smuggling in Belgium, including from the police, prosecutors' offices and immigration authorities as well as from the Federal Migration Center known as Myria and the Pag-Asa reception center.
During the first part of the meeting, some key outcomes of the EMN study on the smuggling of migrants were presented, as well as implications for policy responses such as:
- Develop comprehensive policies addressing both demand for (availability of legal channels, development, etc.) and supply of (surveillance, document fraud, transportation etc.) smuggling services;
- Base policies on continuous innovation and cooperation across agencies and borders to be able to anticipate and/or react quickly;
- Work closely with diasporas to raise awareness about legal routes and about the risks associated with smuggling services, and to codesign more effective information campaigns;
- Explore the role of social media in facilitating migrant smuggling to develop an appropriate policy response in this area
Participants stressed that some points needed to be considered further, including the role of corruption in migrant smuggling, the procurement of illegal residence in addition of illegal entry as part of migrant smuggling and distinctions between routes. The EU Commission also invited stakeholders to assess bilateral and multilateral cooperation in this field and to comment on obstacles restricting cooperation at EU level.
During the second part of the meeting, the role of social media in migrant smuggling was specifically addressed. Mr Andrea Di Nicola, scientific coordinator of eCrime (ICT, law & criminology) taking part in the Surf & Sound Project (the use of the Internet on migration related crimes), shared his knowledge and experience in this field. Mr Di Nicola explained how social media impact on the organization of smugglers and criminal networks as well as smuggling activities. He also showed why social media play an increasing role in the "smuggling business", and the (dis)advantages for stakeholders concerned. He also suggested actions and possible responses, including an ICT tool, profiling and monitoring, interdisciplinary work and an observatory.
Participants shared their experiences regarding the use of social media in migrant smuggling and the challenges faced at investigation and prosecution stages: inter alia, smuggling related content is poorly identified/reported on social media; content is removed at the discretion of social media companies; money flows are difficult to follow; available investigators and tools are insufficient and specific software is still under development; sites can't easily be accessed, legislative impediments arise, etc.
The EMN will further work on this issue, analyzing ways in which social media are used in migrant smuggling, exploring how to foster cooperation with social media companies and making use of such cooperation for other relevant tools to better fight migrant smuggling.
For further information, see the PowerPoint presentations below and/or contact [email protected]