The United States Secretary of State has released the 2020 global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report on June 25 upgrading Bangladesh's ranking from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2.
This significant step reflected Bangladesh's progress in combating human trafficking over the past year, including standing up seven anti-trafficking tribunals and taking action against recruiting agencies exploiting Bangladeshis seeking to work abroad.
Migration experts and counter trafficking activists called upon the government to take more proactive initiatives to stop the trafficking in labour migration as it would emerge as big challenge for Bangladesh during and post COVID-pandemic situation.
Bangladesh has improved its efforts to combat human trafficking but must do more to increase convictions and investigate cases involving Rohingyas, according to TIP report.
A senior home ministry official said that Bangladesh government has been trying level best to improve its capacity to combat the human trafficking.
‘We hope that trafficking cases would be speedily disposed of in the coming days as the government has already setup the special tribunals at the divisional headquarters,’ the official said.
The TIP report has already credited Bangladesh with setting up tribunals to handle a backlog of trafficking cases, tripling convictions - 25 up from eight last year - and identifying 585 potential victims, which represented a 40% rise on the previous reporting period.
The US government’s report suggested that Bangladesh must increase prosecutions and convictions - particularly for labour trafficking.
Bangladesh had at least 4,407 trafficking cases that remained pending investigation or prosecution as of the end of 2019, and a conviction rate of 1.7%, according to the report.
BRAC Migration Programme head Shariful Hasan hailed the TIP report saying that “Of course it has been a positive achievement for Bangladesh” in combating the human trafficking issues.
In a short interview with Migration News, he said that the human trafficking happening in guise of labour migration would remain as a main challenge for Bangladesh.
Shariful, a senior journalist-turned migration expert stressed the need for taking immediate steps by the authorities concerned to ensure fair recruitment and bring the migration cost under control.
“Total migration system in Bangladesh needs to be brought under a discipline manner aimed to ensure safe, orderly and regular migration in light of the global compact,” he said.
During COVID-19, he noted that normal recruitment has already got suspended and he predicted that after pandemic, trafficking in migration might be increased.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), a community based migrants organization in Bangladesh has demanded exemplary punishment of the human traffickers who had committed the heinous crimes killing Bangladeshis in Libya and dumping others in Macedonia recently
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam who had done many researches on human trafficking issues told Migration News that Bangladesh government should immediately activate the special tribunals to quickly dispose of the trafficking cases.
He urged the government to take special steps to dispose the migration related cases under speedy tribunals to protect the migrant workers from procrastination of their legal remedies.
BSS reported that Bangladesh’s foreign minister Dr AK Abdul Momen appreciated the US acknowledgement and attributed the development to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘zero tolerance policy’ against human trafficking.
He said this elevation was crucial for Bangladesh as otherwise the US would have suspended non-humanitarian USAID activities in Bangladesh.
“It’s a significant achievement,” Momen said describing it to be the outcome of a combined effort of his office and the ministries of homes, law and expatriate welfare under a national action plan for 2018-2020 against human trafficking.