Bangladesh remained on Tier 2 Watch List for the third consecutive year as the government could not meet minimum standards of trafficking elimination, according to the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2019.
The TIP report released recently, however, said that Bangladesh was making significant efforts to improve the situation.
The TIP report said that Bangladesh government did not demonstrate overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period as the government identified significantly fewer trafficking victims and did not consistently refer victims to care.
The report says: ‘Victim care remained insufficient; Rohingya and foreign trafficking victims could not access protective services, and the government did not have shelter for adult male victims.’
Despite at least 100 credible reports of forced labour and sex trafficking of Rohingya within Bangladesh, the government did not report investigating or prosecuting these potential crimes, and the Bangladesh High Court did not entertain anti-trafficking cases filed by 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.
Official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a serious problem, and the government did not take any action against some high-profile allegations.
‘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.’
The TIP report recommended with priority asking Bangladesh government to significantly increase prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offenses, particularly of labor traffickers and complicit government officials, while strictly respecting due process.
It also recommended taking steps to eliminate recruitment fees charged to workers by licensed labor recruiters and ensure recruitment fees are paid by employers.
Bangladesh was also recommended to establish guidelines for provision of adequate victim care and standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the referral of victims to such services, expand services for trafficking victims, including adult male victims, foreign victims, and victims exploited abroad.
It also recommended to Bangladesh to allow Rohingyas’ freedom of movement and access to education and employment to reduce their risk of trafficking, enhance training for officials, including law enforcement, labor inspectors, and immigration officers, on identification of trafficking cases and victim referrals to services.
It said that the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment should be mandated to regulate sub-agents, improve quality of pre-departure trainings, including sessions on labour rights, labour laws, and access to justice and assistance.