Newton RCUK-CONACYT - Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic: Beyond Elite Counter-Measures Towards Citizen-Led Innovation

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: Law


Kidnapping has emerged as a major source of societal insecurity in Mexico, with public authorities recording 1,698 kidnappings in 2013. However, despite this being the highest number on record, official statistics reflect only a small fraction of incidents and the majority of kidnappings go unreported. Police complicity; high levels of impunity; failure to uphold the rule of law: all have eroded public confidence in state capacity to combat this illicit practice. In this context, the insecurity born of kidnapping pervades Mexican society and the so-called 'democratization' of this threat ensures that it is no longer just the rich who are exposed. This criminal phenomenon also manifests extra-territorial reach as its ramifications seep across the US-Mexico border.

Our project will chart the shifting topography of the Mexican kidnapping epidemic and examine various 'mobile solutions' that have emerged to counter it. These include strategies such as: internal/external migration; cross-border security services; escort security; and, personal locator-chips. However, our ambitions extend beyond these multiple mobilities and the protection of wealthy elites, to engage with innovative 'citizen-led' responses. Working with activist-citizens, NGOs and human rights defenders, our transnational academic collaboration will build capacity within Mexico by developing a portfolio of counter-kidnapping resources. Together we will work to provide answers to the key question: how do you counter kidnapping when you cannot access private solutions or rely on the state?

Through Participatory Action Research (PAR) with activists and victims' groups, we will explore the potential of the following resources: a counter-kidnapping handbook; a support-network for the families of kidnap victims; and, a mobile-phone 'app' developed as both a secret alerting system and a secure reporting mechanism. Harnessing the potential of new technological resources -most notably Amnesty International's 'Panic Button' app- we will explore new means to foster strategies of peer-to-peer security planning, to strengthen victims' independence and to improve their capacities to assist others. Integrating new technology into citizen-led counter-kidnapping we will work to bring forth much needed social change. We will also encourage project participants to contribute to a database of 'kidnapping diaries' by recording their narratives of this illicit phenomenon using new technology.

Whilst the connection between security and technology is often framed in terms of social or mobility control in academic debates, our research takes an alternate approach. We examine how technology can facilitate, rather than restrict, mobility, as well as how it can both protect human rights and those who defend them. By making smartphone technology available to participants and training them in Amnesty International's recently developed 'PanicButton' app, we will initiate a feedback process to calibrate this app towards the specific challenges of kidnapping in Mexico. Through collaboration with those experts who developed the app, our project is uniquely placed to harness both their expertise and the transformative potential of PAR to innovate technology for social impact; in this case citizen-led counter-kidnapping.

Our project is ambitious in seeking not only to track this illicit phenomenon across Mexico's social classes and territorial boundaries, but also to harness deeper understanding of kidnapping to both inform and innovate citizen responses. By extending counter-measures against kidnapping beyond entrepreneurial private security solutions for elites towards wider societal benefit through citizen-led action, we pioneer new thinking on how to guarantee security when states fail to uphold the rule of law. Furthermore, as kidnapping is a regional problem across Latin America, our research builds Mexican capacity but also provides a template that can be adapted for other contexts.

Planned Impact

Through ethnographic input and engagement in the participatory element of our research, users from Mexican NGOs and victims' groups concerned with kidnapping will both shape, and directly benefit from, our project. Their involvement in a cycle of PAR events will ensure ongoing feedback into research design and execution. Their contribution to group work will facilitate knowledge-exchange on counter-kidnapping. Their engagement in training exercises will stimulate peer-to-peer security planning. These activities will all contribute to three key non-academic outputs (see 'Pathways to Impact'): a citizen-led counter-kidnapping handbook; a support network for victims/their families; and, a counter-kidnapping smartphone app. This portfolio of citizen-resources will find users amongst our research participants, but will be further promoted to Mexican civil society through the relationships of our local research team and Project Partner, Gobernanza Forense Ciudadana, with interested groups such as: La Asociacion Alto al Secuestro; Comite de Accion Social; El Consejo Para la Ley y los Derechos Humanos; and, Mexico SOS.

Our project is relevant for Mexican federal institutions, as well as for international organizations actively combatting kidnapping in Latin America, notably: the United Nations Development Programme; the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime; the Organization of American States; and, its Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. Whilst their efforts to date have focused on state action and/or international co-operation, our project addresses calls for parallel efforts to promote and strengthen citizen-engagement. Our Colombian Project Partner, Fundación Pais Libre -an NGO specifically concerned with kidnapping- will have valuable input to the counter-kidnapping resources emerging from this project and will also help establish a regional platform for counter-kidnapping exchange.

Working with collaborators from Amnesty International, The Engine Room andconsultant technology developers, Iilab, our ambition to adapt the 'PanicButton' app as a counter-kidnapping device coincides with their organizational goals to engage local users and adapt 'PanicButton' for varied contexts and threats. Working at this nexus between human rights and technology, our research offers potential benefits to both spheres and is very relevant for groups exposed to risks of abduction, kidnapping and disappearance, in Mexico and other contexts, notably: human rights defenders; humanitarian workers; and, investigative reporters.

Both experiential and technological elements of our research will interest global risk professionals active in the kidnapping field. Security consultants; providers of emergency assistance; insurance specialists: these private actors similarly employ smartphone technology for travel security and emergency location. They will see value in our findings on Mexican kidnapping patterns.

The extent of societal insecurity caused by kidnapping also ensures that our work will have direct interest for Mexican media. Whilst we will promote our research through traditional outlets of press releases and interviews, we will also seek to engage with new citizen-reporting mechanisms that have emerged via social media regarding sensitive public security issues in Mexico.

As our research agenda will raise awareness of what citizens can do in the face of kidnapping, open access resources are integral to its impact strategy. We will work with local communications experts to maximize project impact via a bilingual website that will host: key findings; research briefings; project outputs; media information; and, a discussion forum. This approach will mirror that successfully used by the UK-CI in his project on the disappeared in Mexico. Members of user communities will also be invited to open project events and to the final conference in Mexico City; the latter serving as the platform to launch our counter-kidnapping resource


10 25 50
Title Graphic Novel/Handbook - ParaĆ­so las Dunas 
Description The graphic novel, 'Paraíso las Dunas' distils key findings and counter-kidnapping lessons from this project's fieldwork and participatory meetings into an accessible format which also interacts with the M.A.K.E. app and the upcoming ESRC IAA telenovela 'Amor Secuestrado'. This graphic novel is available on pdf, as well as on social media at: In terms of ODA relevance, this graphic novel was specifically designed as an accessible way to reach audiences in Mexico -not least through social media. Its accessible format means that to can also be shared with counter-kidnapping activists from other contexts that are affected by this societal insecurity. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact 2020 ResearchFish report - It is currently too early to identify notable impacts from the graphic novel. We hope that its download and use will increase in tandem with the launch of the telenovela 'Amor Secuestrado' that is being developed through the joint ESRC Impact Acceleration Awards to the University of Leeds and the University of Exeter. 
Description Project Achievements: This project was specifically directed towards combatting the pervasive societal insecurity of kidnapping in Mexico. In terms of ODA relevance of our project outputs, findings and impact, this project has worked towards fostering sustainable societal security in the face of kidnap risk and to equip Mexican citizens with new co-produced resources through which to do so. Whilst our research has been focused primarily upon assistance to Mexico, it has relevance to other lower/middle income countries that are confronting kidnapping as a pervasive societal insecurity. Our research also engaged with counter-kidnapping solutions from Colombia and connected to scholars and activists confronting kidnapping in other global regions (International Workshop on 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility' El Paso, USA - April 2019).

In addition to delivering the citizen-led counter-kidnapping toolkit of a handbook (in the form of a graphic novel) and a counter-kidnapping app, this research project also made the following important findings:

1. Through our research we have gained new insights into the complex relationship that exists between kidnapping in Mexico and its emotional impacts of enduring trauma, festering taboo and disruption of intimacy. On the one hand, our fieldwork interviews and participatory workshops uncovered significant reticence and a certain taboo around the illicit phenomenon of kidnapping. Notably, across 17 focus-groups held in Work Package 1 'Citizen-Led Counter-Kidnapping' only 16.7% were prepared to discuss this phenomenon with a view to developing security protocols to prevent it. Many of those affected by kidnapping were also reticent to talk about it. Furthermore, kidnapping whilst a taboo subject also had very disruptive impacts upon intimacy (broadly conceived as relational life). Whilst it is obvious that the intimacy of family relationships is damaged by kidnapping, this pervasive crime extends much further to family breakdowns, business/personal bankruptcy and even the diminution and effective kidnapping of municipal life itself in affected contexts. In Work Package 2 'Transborder Effects and Transnational Solutions' we found that in order to preserve family life and protect loved ones, intimate family relations became disrupted in multiple ways (e.g. by some family members relocating across the border to the USA - leading to binational, separated, family existence);

2. Our research project highlighted that whilst academic and media attention has a tendency to concentrate upon elite kidnappings for ransom, the reality of kidnapping in Mexico is that there are a diversity of kidnapping forms, motivations and outcomes- as well as a spectrum of victims. Whilst extortionate kidnappings dominate, they have relocated from elites to lower/middle classes and migrants. Kidnappings also occur for other reasons, including, amongst others: revenge; intimidation; forced labour in the sex and drug trades; forced recruitment into organised crime; and, as a precursor to other crimes (e.g. forced disappearance and homicide). Kidnapping may also be extortionate, political, virtual and even self-kidnapping as well as being committed by a range of actors. Consequently, we argue for a revisiting of terminology such as 'secuestro' and 'kidnapping' to bring out the contextual importance and divergent manifestations of this phenomenon;

3. Within Work Package 2 'Transborder Effects and Transnational Solutions', our research project accumulated valuable new information regarding the impact of the pervasive insecurity in Mexico's Northern borderlands. Whilst kidnapping had a profound impact on border cities, the patterns of kidnapping both shaped, and were in turn shaped by, border mobilities. Our research identified a range of transborder mobile subjects in the face of kidnap risk: elite refugees who moved just across the border to the safety of the USA; cross-border private security companies who protected the transborder elite from kidnap risk; asylum seekers who sought asylum in the USA on the basis of their exposure to kidnap risk; undocumented migrants whose precarious travel resulted in them being targeted for extortive kidnapping at an almost industrial level; and, deportees from the USA who often were dispatched back to Mexico to locations where they were vulnerable to kidnapping. Beyond these transborder mobile subjects, kidnapping also triggered other transborder mobilities, not least in the payment of ransoms, the movement of kidnap victims or in virtual kidnapping scams;

4. Our research made the important finding that kidnapping must be appreciated as being located within a spectrum of criminality - this is especially important when thinking about how to effectively intervene against this illicit practice. What may start as a kidnapping, may later become a disappearance or a homicide - so academic analyses and policy interventions to combat kidnapping must reflect this reality. Furthermore, in the case of some instances of kidnapping victimisation, we also came across scenarios in which someone who was initially a victim of kidnapping would later become a member of kidnapping gangs - progressing from victim to perpetrator.
Exploitation Route Citizen-Led Counter-Kidnapping Toolkit: Through this project we have developed a toolkit to assist Mexican citizens to confront kidnapping. The app provides functionalities for witness-testimonies, constructing security protocols for the eventuality of kidnapping, and a panic button. All of these functionalities are key mechanisms to overcome taboos around kidnapping and to encourage families and friends to engage in peer-to-peer security planning. The handbook/graphic novel also helps to break taboos around kidnapping and to better inform Mexican citizens about this illicit phenomenon. Whilst we will continue to disseminate this toolkit through our collaborators in Mexico, and to get Mexican citizens to share it with other users, our objective is to engage key policy actors with this endeavour - particularly those working with young people.

ESRC Impact Acceleration Account: Through the joint ESRC IAA awards to Conor O'Reilly (University of Leeds) and Ernesto Schwartz Marin (University of Exeter) we are working with the grassroots film-production company VerdeAzul Producionnes to co-produce a six episode web-series telenovela called 'Amor Secuestrado' ('Kidnapped Love'). Whilst targeted workshops will be convened with young people in the border region and in Mexico City, our objective is for much wider dissemination of this telenovela. Not only will this help to break taboos around kidnapping and to catalyse new narratives beyond those of victim-blaming, but it will encourage new audiences (across generations) to confront the threat of kidnapping, to plan for this possible eventuality, and to engage with our citizen-led counter-kidnapping toolkit to do this.
Sectors Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Security and Diplomacy,Other

Description Centre for Law and Human Behaviour, University of Texas at El Paso - Collaboration & Assistance for Project Workshop 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility' 
Organisation University of Texas, El Paso
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution An important element of Work Package 2 'Transborder Effects and Transnational Solutions' was to convene a landmark event on kidnapping that gathered academics, practitioners and representatives of NGOs and INGOs to discuss this pervasive societal insecurity. This resulted in the workshop 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility' that was convened in El Paso, Texas, USA in April 2019.
Collaborator Contribution The Center for Law and Human Behavior provided assistance to this event by providing advice on hosting an event in this location, passing on contacts for useful networks to venues and accommodation for participants. We were also assisted to secure a venue within UTEP for a film screening and Q&A which were part of the programme of events for this workshop. A number of participants from UTEP also joined the workshop discussions.
Impact For more information on the workshop, please see the detail under the relevant section of 'Engagement Activities' and the workshop webpage:
Start Year 2018
Description La Narractiva - Web Design & Transmedia Expertise for Work Package 2 'Transborder Effects and Transnational Solutions' 
Organisation Narractive
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Conor O'Reilly (PI) and Camilo Tamayo Gomez (PDRF) worked with La Narractiva as part of Work Package 2 'Transborder Effects and Transnational Solutions'. This work involved the co-design and co-production of the webpage for the workshop 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility' held in El Paso, Texas, USA in April 2019.
Collaborator Contribution La Narractiva were delivered web-design and trans media expertise as part of the the co-design and co-production of the webpage for the workshop 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility' held in El Paso, Texas, USA in April 2019.
Start Year 2019
Description MACIA Estudio - Work Package 1 'Citizen-Led Counter-Kidnapping' 
Organisation Macia Estudio
Country Mexico 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (Co-I) collaborated with MACIA Estudio in relation to Work Package 1 'Citizen-Led Counter-Kidnapping'
Collaborator Contribution As part of Work Package 1 'Citizen-Led Counter-Kidnapping', MACIA Estudio assisted with the participatory action research activities conducted for the project. Their work resulted in the co-prodiuction of the handbook/graphic novel 'Paris Las Dunas' (artist Perrito).
Impact Handbook/Graphic Novel 'Paris Las Dunas' - available from:
Start Year 2018
Title M.A.K.E. counter-kidnapping app 
Description This app forms part of the citizen-led counter-kidnapping toolkit for the Newton Fund project M.A.K.E. and includes functionalities to: create security plans; to record witness testimony: and, also a panic button function. It is an important resource within the project's strategy to catalyse counter-kidnapping action and to trigger Mexican citizens developing their own security protocols through peer-to-peer security planning. This app has been developed through collaboration with the Artificial Intelligence Lab of Tec de Monterrey university in Mexico City. It was approved for download from the App Store at: In terms of ODA relevance, this app is a result of co-production activates between the UK research team and their collaborators at the Artifical Intelligence Lab of Tec de Monterrey in Mexico. Whilst this app is specifically tailored to the Mexican context, it has scope for adaptation to other contexts that are confronting kidnapping. It will provide a new resource for Mexican citizens to confront the threat of kidnapping, not least by encouraging them to develop their own security protocols and to proactively place security measures in place - in so doing also confronting some of the fears and taboos that exist around kidnapping. 
Type Of Technology Webtool/Application 
Year Produced 2019 
Open Source License? Yes  
Impact 2020 ResearchFish Submission - It is too early to identify impacts that have resulted from the M.A.K.E. app as it has only recently been launched. Version 2.0 is also in development and will be available for both iPhone and Android smartphones. The M.A.K.E. app will be an integral part of the launch activities around the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account project to develop the telenovela 'Amor Secuestrado' and will also link with the ongoing ESRC Transformative project on 'Data Justice in Mexico's Multiveilland Society'. 
Description "Kidnapping and Crime-Apping in Mexico and its Borders' - Project Workshop, University of Exeter, England 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact This workshop entitled "Kidnapping and Crime-Apping in Mexico and its Borders" was convened at the Project Co-I's host institution, The University of Exeter. In addition to project members, Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marin, Dr. Conor O'Reilly and Dr. Camilo Tamayo-Gomez, participants also included project consultant, Dr. Gabriella Sanchez (European University Institute, Italy), invited speakers, Dr Arely Cruz-Santiago (Durham University) and Alejando Lerch-Huacuja (Cambridge University), as well as staff from the University of Exeter's Department of Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology, including representatives from research groups concerned with Science and Technology Studies as well as from Egenis, The Centre for the Study of Life Sciences. This workshop was an important opportunity to disseminate findings from project fieldwork. to 'test' new conceptual frameworks and also to discuss the ethical and technological challenges of the counter-kidnapping app that is being developed within our project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
Description Film Screening of 'The Devil's Freedom' followed by Q&A with the director Everardo Gonzalez 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact This Film Screening of 'The Devil's Freedom' followed by a Q&A with the director Everardo Gonzalez was part of the events for the Newton Fund project workshop 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility'. It was attended by participants in this workshop, UG/PG students from the host insitution -the University of Texas at El Paso- and members of the general public. The Q&A following the screening included discussion with Dr Ernesto Schwartz Marin from the project team with the director, Everardo Gonzalez, as well as with members of the audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description International Workshop on 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility', Project-Funded Workshop, El Paso, TX, USA. April, 2019 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact 'Global Perspectives on Kidnapping and Crimes of (Im)mobility'. Newton Fund (Mexico) project workshop. El Paso, April 2019

This workshop formed part of the research programme for the Newton Fund project 'Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic: Beyond Elite Counter-Measures, Towards Citizen-Led Innovation'. As an international and interdisciplinary gathering on this under-researched topic, this landmark event included: academic presentations from a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives and contexts affected by kidnapping; plenaries from local activists in El Paso/Juarez; a film screening of 'The Devil's Freedom' and Q&A with its director; a transmedia presentation on kidnapping and memory in Colombia; and, contributions from a range of relevant international organisations and policy actors. Amongst those NGOs and INGOs represented at the workshop were: Hope Border Institute; the International Committee of the Red Cross; Médecins Sans Frontières; International Commission on Missing Persons; Data Cívica; Centro Nacional de Memoria Historica de Colombia; and, Justice in Mexico.

The workshop had 35 participants representing 10 countries, 14 universities and 7 NGOs. There were 2 plenaries from local activists, 7 panel sessions, 1 film screening & Q+A and 1 Transmedia presentation event.

In terms of the ODA relevance of this workshop, the majority of contexts that were focused upon were low/middle-income countries where kidnapping has emerged as a significant societal insecurity. Consequently, this was an important opportunity to exchange knowledge regarding this illicit practice, its diverse manifestations across less developed global regions and hot it might be confronted. Amongst those countries/regions that were discussed were: Colombia; Eurasia; Mexico; and, Nigeria. The risk of kidnapping and counter-kidnapping responses were also considered in the contexts of: foreign aid-work; disappearance and missing persons; as well as, the intersection between kidnapping and irregular mobility.

A repository of the workshop proceedings - including video of the presentations- is available on the dedicated webpage (
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description M.A.K.E. Launch Event, Mexico City, Mexico 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact On October 23rd, 2019 the launch event of Newton Fund project M.A.K.E. ('Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic') was held at the Museo Nacional de las Culturas del Mundo in Mexico City. This event was attended by c.150 people from diverse public and third sector organisations, students, activists and members of the general public - as well as members of the project team. Key policy actors in attendance included representatives from; INJUVE - the public policy organisation focused on young people in Mexico City; and, from the Ministry for Environment (Security). In terms of ODA relevance it is important to note that the majority of collaborators, policy actors and participants were drawn from Mexico. This launch event was therefore a key milestone in delivering upon the ODA objectives of this Newton Fund project.

This event marked the official launch of the citizen-led counter-kidnapping toolkit that had been co-produced with our collaborators in Mexico. Our first counter-kidnapping resource, the M.A.K.E. app was presented by Luis Angel Trejo Rodrigues of the Artifical Intelligence Lab of Tec de Monterrey who discussed how this app was developed and presented its various functions. Our second counter-kidnapping resource, a handbook in the form of the graphic novel 'Paraíso las Dunas' was presented by the team from MACIA -Leticia Lozano and Mariana Rios- along with its artist, Perrito. Other project collaborators from LIS (Justicia en Movemento) and from GFC (Gobernanza de Forense Ciudadana) were also in attendance.

As well as providing an opportunity for Dr. Conor O'Reilly and Dr. Ernesto Schwartz Marin to present key project findings and to launch the citizen-led counter-kidnapping toolkit, this event also provided the opportunity to promote two further funded research projects in which they are involved. The first is an ESRC Impact Acceleration Account project that has been jointly funded by awards from the University of Leeds and the University of Exeter to build impact from the Newton Fund project M.A.K.E. This ESRC IAA project, entitled ''Amor Secuestrado ('Kidnapped Love'): Transmedia Storytelling Through Telenovelas to Break Taboos and Catalyse Counter-Kidnapping Action in Mexico' involves a programme of collaborative research and co-production activities with local NGOs, activists and a grassroots film production company in Mexico. The team from the grassroots film production company, VerdeAzul Producionnes, presented their initial work for this project at this launch event. The second funded research that was presented at this launch was for the ESRC Transformative project 'Data Justice in Mexico's Multiveillant Society' (PI - Ernesto Schwartz-Marin). This project will continue research into pressing security issues in Mexico and their implication for data justice. The M.A.K.E. launch event provided a useful opportunity to showcase linked RCUK-funded research concerned with developing sustainable security in Mexico.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Participation in UNODC and Migration Policy Centre Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact In October 2017, Conor O'Reilly was an invited speaker at the workshop 'When Smuggling Goes Wrong: From a Crime Against State Sovereignty to a Crime Against Persons' jointly convened by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) and the Migration Policy Centre (MPC), European university Institute, Florence, Italy. At this workshop, Conor O'Reilly presented a paper on 'Capturing (Im)mobility: The Challenges of Kidnapping Research' to peer academics, policy-makers and journalists. This workshop was aimed at framing the policy agenda regarding migrant smuggling, Conor O'Reilly's presentation spoke to the widespread problem of migrant kidnapping, the research challenges it presents and the need for it to be given greater emphasis on the policy agenda of UNODC and other relevant INGOs/NGOs. Highlighting ongoing research for the Newton Fund (ESRC) project 'Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic: Beyond Elite Counter-Measures, Towards Citizen-Led Innovation', this workshop contribution also emphasised the importance of non-state 'solutions' to kidnapping, not least as this phenomenon is often present in locations where state influence and/or rule of law are weak. A forthcoming chapter contribution linked to this workshop and focused on policy recommendations will be published in 2018. The purpose of this event was described as follows by the organisers: 'The objective of the workshop is to strengthen partnerships between UNODC and academia, to gain a better understanding on the overall status of research in the field of smuggling of migrants, and to strengthen synergies by establishing new partnerships. The workshop will gather experts working on issues revolving around migrant smuggling to discuss their views, findings and policy recommendations.'
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Radio Programme on Colombian National Radio: 'Secuestros en la Frontera Entre Mexico v Estados Unidos', Radio Nacional Colombia" (September 25, 2018) 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Dr Conor O' Reilly (University of Leeds), Dr Camilo Tomayo Gomez (University of Leeds), Dr. Ernesto Schwartz-Marin (University of Exeter) and Dr. Gabriella Sanchez (European University Institute) appeared on one of the most popular radio programmes in Colombia to discuss their Newton Fund research project - 'Mobile Solutions to the Mexican Kidnapping Epidemic: Beyond Elite Counter-Measures, Towards Citizen-Led Innovation'.

This two-hour special programme on Radio Nacional Colombia, which was also syndicated to dozens of other Latin American broadcasters, discussed their research into the Mexican kidnapping epidemic. The project works with activist citizens, NGOs and human rights defenders, to develop counter-kidnapping resources which do not rely on private solutions or the state. These include a counter-kidnapping handbook; a support-network for the families of kidnap victims; and a mobile-phone app developed as both a secret alerting system and a secure reporting mechanism. It also explores how kidnapping dynamics take on additional dimensions in the US-Mexico borderlands as they both shape, and are shaped by, border mobilities. The project will create strategies for peer-to-peer security planning, to strengthen victims' independence and to improve their capacities to assist others, which will be promoted across Mexican society.

The programme covered a range of issues around kidnapping in Mexico, the dynamics of kidnapping on the US-Mexico border, the ambitions of our project and how to combat kidnapping. Whilst the radio programme was on Colombia's national broadcaster, it was also syndicated to dozens of other Latin American radio stations. In terms of listening audience in Colombia, we had an average of 789,456, with a peak audience of 965,567.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018