Human Trafficking: Bangladesh still in tier 2 in US report
Bangladesh retained its position on "Tier 2" in the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report for the second year, showing signs of progress after being on the "Tier 2 Watch List" for the three previous years.
"The [Bangladesh] government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period, considering the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on its anti-trafficking capacity; therefore Bangladesh remained on Tier 2," said the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report released yesterday.
A country remaining on the watch list for three consecutive years automatically downgrades to Tier 3 unless the government makes significant efforts to combat human trafficking.
The report said Bangladesh government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.
The annual report ranks governments based on their perceived efforts to acknowledge and combat human trafficking.
Bangladesh had been on the Tier 2 Watch List from 2017 to 2019. In 2020 and this year, Bangladesh has been ranked among the countries in Tier 2.
As per the US law, countries on Tier 3 could trigger severe restrictions and even full curtailment of non-humanitarian and non-trade-related assistance.
The latest report said Bangladesh government efforts to combat human trafficking included initiating more prosecutions, particularly of labour traffickers; beginning to operate its trafficking tribunals; and collaborating with foreign governments on a transnational trafficking case.
The government also opened an investigation into -- and parliament revoked the seat of -- a member of parliament involved in bribing a Kuwaiti official to fraudulently send more than 20,000 Bangladeshi migrant workers to Kuwait, said the report.
However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas, it mentioned.
The number of convictions decreased, while law enforcement continued to deny credible reports of official complicity in trafficking, it added.
Also, the government continued to allow recruiting agencies to charge high recruitment fees to migrant workers and did not consistently address illegally operating recruitment sub-agents, leaving workers vulnerable to traffickers.
According to the report, Bangladesh investigated 348 cases under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act-2012, including 138 investigations continued from previous years, compared with the investigation of 403 cases including 29 ongoing investigations during the previous reporting period.
The government prosecuted 517 suspects (184 for sex trafficking and 333 for forced labor) -- an increase from the 312 individuals the government prosecuted the previous reporting period, of which 56 were for forced labour.
The government convicted seven traffickers, including one for sex trafficking, two for labour trafficking, and four for undefined trafficking crimes, but acquitted 14 defendants.
This was a significant decrease from courts convicting 25 traffickers the previous reporting year.
The government reported more than 4,000 trafficking cases remained pending investigation or prosecution as of December 2020.
The TIP report recommended increasing prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offences, particularly of labour traffickers and complicit government officials, while respecting due process.
It also recommended taking steps to eliminate recruitment fees charged to workers by licensed labour recruiters and ensure employers pay the recruitment fees.