PID Feature: The World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is observed across the globe including Bangladesh on July 30. This year the day bears special importance for Bangladesh as the country earned internation acclamation for its role in combating human trafficking. On June 25, Secretary of State of the United States MiKe Pompeo released the 2020 global Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report upgrading Bangladesh's ranking from Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2. The TIP report credited Bangladesh with setting up tribunals to handle a backlog of trafficking cases, tripling convictions and identifying potential victims, which marked a significant rise on the previous reporting period. While talking to media on the report, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister Dr A K Abdul Momen appreciated the US acknowledgement and said, this menifested Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘Zero Tolerance Policy’ against human trafficking.“It’s a significant achievement,” the Minister said describing it as an outcome of a combined effort of the ministries of Foreign Affairs, Homes, Law and Expatriates’ Welfare under a national action plan for 2018-2020 against human trafficking.
Just a couple of days before the release of the TIP report, 26 Bangladeshi citizens were brutally killed and 11 others injured in a gun attack reportedly by some human traffickers in the desert town of Mizdah in Libya. Referring to recent deadly incident, a Home Affairs ministry’s senior official was quoted by media saying many of the workers have gone to Dubai with legal channels. After landing in the UAE, they worked few months and then they might have been allured by the traffickers with good jobs in Europe or other countries. The government has already launched crackdowns against the perpetrators in some districts especially in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Noakhali, Madaripur, Shariatpur from where people were prone to migrate to Europe by brokers. The ministry sources also said, Bangladesh government has officially stopped sending workers to war-torn Libya since 2015.
Human smuggling and trafficking has a complex phenomenon and addressing this problem required strong and well coordinated international action that takes into cognizance both the demand and supply side of the labour market.
Putting emphasis on the issue, the government in Bangladesh enacted the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act in 2012. Its rules were also adopted in 2017 to implement the law properly in the country.
Law enforcers are vigilant to combat human trafficking and they are frequently launching drives against the rackets of human traffickers in Bangladesh as they are found alluring migrant workers with better jobs overseas.
As legal procedures in Bangladesh have been a challenge to bring the human traffickers to book, so the government’s move to set up speedy tribunal would definitely improve the situation. Seven special tribunals were established in divisional cities. They already started functioning from March this year.
Bangladesh government, however, has decided to take various international moves, including signing of an UN treaty ‘Palermo Protocols’ aiming to stop human trafficking abroad.
Now-a days, it has been harder for Bangladeshi nationals to cross the airport immigration to fly abroad without having authentic visas stamped on their passports as the government has taken stern moves to stop the human trafficking. Bangladeshis are also to face difficulties to fly even with valid tourist or visit visas of some transit countries in the Middle East as the human traffickers are misusing the opportunity. An inter-ministerial meeting in late of 2019 decided to tighten immigration clearance for Bangladeshis travelling abroad with empty passports in a bid to check human trafficking.
The government has already launched crackdowns against the perpetrators in some districts especially in Sylhet, Sunamganj, Noakhali, Madaripur, Shariatpur from where people were prone to migrate to Europe by brokers.
As legal procedures in Bangladesh have been a challenge to bring the human traffickers to book, so the government’s move to set up speedy tribunal would definitely improve the situation. ‘Seven special tribunals has already been established in divisional cities. They started functioning from March this year. The tribunals could surely help speed up the trial process of the human trafficking cases.
The “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children” is one of the three protocols that make up the United Nations' Palermo Protocols on trafficking – which provides countries with an international definition, and guidelines on how they should tackle human trafficking.
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime - UNDOC is observing the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons on July 30 with the theme “Committed to the Cause -Working on the Frontline to End Human Trafficking” According to the UNDOC, the special day will focus on the first responders to human trafficking. The first responders to human trafficking are the people who work in different sectors - identifying, supporting, counselling and seeking justice for victims of trafficking and challenging the impunity of the traffickers.
Writer is Deputy Director at EP wing of Foreign Ministry