Deputy Chief of Mission Boustani Opening Remarks – Déplacement de populations, migration et traité de personnes: quelle couverture par mes média

Deputy Chief of Mission Boustani
Opening Remarks
Déplacement de populations, migration et traité de personnes: quelle couverture par mes médias?
February 1, 2019; Hotel Ndiambour; 9:30AM

(As prepared)

Secrétaire Général du SYNPICS

Welcome! I am delighted we were able to host this workshop and that so many of you from across Senegal were able to attend. You have busy lives and careers so I thank you for taking the time to attend.  Na ngeen def.

For the next two days, you’ll be digging into some deep issues, all of which directly affect Senegal and the region. Economic migration, Trafficking in Persons, asylees, refugees … these are very real areas of concern. Whether it’s refugees in the north from Mauritania, those who have fled violence in the Casamance decades ago and are now in Guinea Bissau or displaced internally, or children who are trafficked across the country and across borders to beg for money—these are all pressing issues that call for investigative reporting.

We hear of terrible stories of young men and women who have spent hundreds of thousands of FCFA trying to get to Europe dreaming of a better life with job opportunities, only to find themselves stuck, unable to get home or go forward.  We have all read about the horrors of slavery in Libya or boats capsizing in the Mediterranean.  But what does the departure of these thousands and thousands of Senegalese mean to their families?  To the country of Senegal, which faces losing a generation of youth? Accurately covering this sobering news from a Senegalese perspective is key to change. Journalism can prompt communities and even the government to find a solution.

You will also hear about the trafficking of migrants, and how trafficking in persons covers a range of situations such as when people are coerced to move from one place to another; when people are deceived into thinking they will be receiving a legitimate job but instead are forced into labor or prostitution, and when children are forced to work or beg. Migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons are separate issues but often conflated and the public needs to understand the difference because they necessitate very different answers.

These are not Senegalese-specific issues but they do all affect Senegal.

Many foreign journalists who report on global migration and refugees often fail to tell the full story and just cover propaganda associated with it. They lack the social and cultural understanding of local journalists.

But these are missed opportunities because by defining the problem, and then reporting about its effects, solutions will flow. Discussions will commence.  Better understanding leads to better solutions.

I would like to thank our remarkable trainers for this workshop. Antonia Carrion and Hamidou Tidiane Sy. And I would like to thank the Secrétaire Général of Synpics Ibrahima Khalil Ndiaye and Sarah Bushman, the Senior Production Officer from IREX who worked with the State Department and our Embassy to put together this training.

Finally, I’d like to thank you for the important work you do.  Some would say instrumental. In America we call journalists a check on government because you provide significant influence on society and the political system through your research and your words.

Albert Camus once said, “A free press can be good or bad, but, most certainly, without freedom a press will never be anything but bad.”

When people don’t know what causes a problem, they don’t know how to resolve it.  When people don’t have the facts, they make them up.  And that creates unstable environments, rife with rumors, gossip and lies.

And you, as reporters, make sure this does not happen, by providing information, by researching, by interviewing, and then educating the public.  You are detectives.

It is both a burden and an opportunity as members of civil society. You shine light where there might be darkness; you educate people where there is confusion.  One of your most important tasks is to fill in the gaps in often complicated and complex stories so that ordinary citizens can make an informed judgment and better understand the status quo and decisions being made that will ultimately have a direct impact on their lives.

I congratulate you for taking up that challenge and I hope you will leave this workshop with new friends, new contacts, and new story ideas.