Address human trafficking issue properly
THE US State Department puts Bangladesh on Tier 2 Watch List for not fulfilling the minimum standard to eliminate trafficking even in the third consecutive year. Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2019 said that to improve the situation Bangladesh has made significant efforts, including adopting a National Action Plan to combat trafficking, convicting traffickers, initiating an investigation against a police officer accused of child sex trafficking, and continuing to investigate some potential trafficking crimes against Rohingya refugees. But these were not sufficient. Being entrapped by the political kingpins of human trafficking, the government could not achieve total success in this regard, while severe unemployment and Rohingya influx have deteriorated the overall situation. And human traffickers are taking advantage of the situation.
The TIP report said officials' involvement in alleged human trafficking and other crimes remained a serious problem, and the government has apparently failed to take any action against some high-profile criminals despite having huge allegations and evidences against them. Not only that, the government continued to allow employers to charge high recruitment fees to migrant workers and did not consistently address illegally operating recruitment sub-agents, which left workers vulnerable to trafficking.
Despite having at least 100 credible reports of forced labour and sex trafficking of Rohingyas within Bangladesh, the government did not initiate proper investigation or prosecution against these potential crimes, and the High Court did not entertain anti-trafficking cases filed by the Rohingyas. However, the government allowed significant humanitarian access to the Rohingya camps and cooperated closely with the UN and the NGOs in counter-trafficking efforts.
We observe that human trafficking has taken a critical turn nowadays due to absence of prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offences, particularly of labour traffickers and relevant government officials. It is also imperative to address the issue of eliminating the recruitment fees charged from workers by licensed labour recruitment agencies. The government should take initiatives to stop visa trading at the destination to bring the middlemen under a legal framework. We think it will be wise to send the workers to the foreign countries under bilateral agreements. Otherwise, it would be difficult to stop human trafficking.