Although the government of Bangladesh does not fully meet the minimum standards for the ‘elimination’ of trafficking, its efforts to do so are significant, said a global report. The government has significantly increased trafficking investigations with a notable increase in labour trafficking investigations from 12 cases in 2014 to 265 cases in 2015. However, the government demonstrated limited efforts to ‘prevent’ trafficking, according to 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report released by the US Department of State in Washington, DC on Thursday. Bangladesh received a Tier 2 ranking as the government of Bangladesh does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Dhaka, UNB News Agency Reported.
The report suggested Bangladesh to finalise, adopt, and disseminate the implementing rules for the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act (PSHTA) and train government officials on its use. It suggested Bangladesh to take steps to eliminate all recruitment fees charged to workers by licensed labour recruiters; increase prosecutions and convictions, particularly of labour trafficking, while strictly respecting due process; establish minimal guidelines for provision of adequate victim care and standard operating procedures for the referral of victims to such services.
The government continued to allow Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) to legally set extremely high recruitment fees, which may have facilitated debt bondage of Bangladeshi workers abroad, the report observed. The government did not demonstrate efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex or forced labour and also demonstrated decreased efforts to protect trafficking victims, it added.
The report laid emphasis on expanding the support services available to victims within Bangladesh and at Bangladesh’s embassies abroad; use the PSHTA to prosecute fraudulent labour recruiters; improve quality of pre-departure trainings for migrant workers, including sessions on labour rights, labour laws, and methods to access justice and assistance in destination countries and in Bangladesh; and accede to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol.
The government reported the identification of 1,815 victims in 2015; of those identified, 1,310 were men, 315 women, and 190 children. This was a significant decrease from 2,899 victims identified in
2014; experts commented the decrease may be due in part to the application of a more accurate definition of trafficking. Of the 1,815 victims identified in 2015, police rescued 1,306, said the report. The report mentioned that the government did not provide services specifically designed for trafficking victims, but children and adult female victims could access support services for vulnerable people through nine multipurpose shelters, drop-in centres, and safe homes administered by Social Welfare Ministry.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) did not cancel any recruitment agencies’ licenses in 2015, compared to four canceled in 2014, said the report. In 2015, 29 victims filed cases against Dhaka-based recruitment agencies through support provided by a foreign government. Separately, the government reported it repatriated approximately 2,700 of its citizens as part of the Bay of Bengal and Andaman Sea crisis-a small number of whom may have been trafficking victims.
The government reported identifying significantly fewer victims in 2015, and the government’s efforts to refer victims to care during the reporting period were unknown. Bangladesh remained without a formal mechanism to refer trafficking victims to protective services and did not provide adequate victim services. The government placed an unknown number of victims in government-operated shelters in 2015, compared with nine of the 2,899 victims identified in 2014 who were placed in government-operated shelters.
The government continued to operate shelters in its embassy in Riyadh and consulate in Jeddah for female Bangladeshi workers fleeing abusive employers; however, overall, officials lacked resources in destination countries to assist labour trafficking victims adequately. Bangladeshi migrant workers, originally hired through the Bureau for Manpower, Education, and Training (BMET), could lodge complaints with BMET upon their return to Bangladesh, and seek government arbitration on labour and recruitment violations, including allegations of forced labour.