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UN, CSO call for collective action to address human trafficking in Bangladesh

  • Published at 05:01 pm July 29th, 2020
Representational image Bigstock

The newly released 2020 Trafficking in Persons report ranks Bangladesh on Tier 2, which is an upgrade from the Tier 2 Watch List

The United Nations (UN) and the civil society organizations (CSO) have called for a collective action to address the human trafficking situation in Bangladesh.

This year, 2020, marks the 20th anniversary of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children -- Palermo Protocol.

On the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the Bangladesh United Nations Network on Migration (BDUNNM) and members of the Counter-Trafficking in Persons Technical Working Group (CTIP TWG) urge the government of Bangladesh, civil society actors, and private sector partners to collectively support a rights-based approach to combat human trafficking.

About 40 million people globally are victims of modern slavery or trafficking. Over 70% of these people are women and girls, many of whom are trapped in sexual exploitation. 

In Bangladesh, a country of origin and destination for victims of trafficking, the UN estimates that thousands are trafficked every year. 

Recently published reports from ILO, Unicef and UNODC present evidence on how the Covid-19 virus may have a detrimental effect on the trafficking situation in general.

The Trafficking in Persons report

The US Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report is published annually and measures countries’ efforts to comply with the “minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking” based on a tier ranking system. 

The newly released 2020 TIP report ranks Bangladesh on Tier 2, which is an upgrade from the Tier 2 Watch List.

In 2019, Bangladesh demonstrated commendable efforts to combat human trafficking compared to the previous reporting period. Efforts included convicting more traffickers, modestly increasing the number of victims identified, acceding to the 2000 UN TIP Protocol, establishing seven Anti-Trafficking Tribunals as stipulated in Bangladesh’s anti-trafficking law.

The TIP report came with a set of recommendations for Bangladesh. In line with these recommendations, BDUNNM advocates for the government to establish a speedy and victim-friendly justice system. 

The activation of the newly established Anti-Trafficking Tribunals is key to strengthening the capacity of and coordination among law enforcing agencies, border security actors, immigration authority, social welfare services and the judiciary. 

For better community engagement, the network further calls for activation of Counter-Trafficking Committees (CTCs) in collaboration with the NGOs and organizations supporting survivors of trafficking.

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh Mia Seppo said: “This year, on this day, I reiterate the global UN campaign against human trafficking which focuses on the first responders. In these exceptional times, we must commend the work of the first responders to human trafficking- people who identify, support, provide counselling and seek justice for survivors of trafficking simultaneously challenging the impunity of the traffickers.” 

“During the Covid-19 crisis, the essential role of first responders has become even more important as survivors of trafficking are increasingly at risk during the pandemic. Without the first responders, access to services and support would be minimal.”

Ministry of Home Affairs Additional Secretary Abu Bakr Siddique said: “Trafficking in persons is a serious human rights violation and the government of Bangladesh is actively taking steps to fight this horrific crime.”

“Bangladesh has been facing challenges related to large numbers of smuggling of migrants which has subsequently become TIP cases, adding further complexity to the anti-trafficking response. However, the government is pleased to know that Bangladesh was upgraded to Tier 2 in the US Department of State’s TIP Report.”

“In this regard and to further address the TIP Report recommendations, we will continue working to follow up on the National Plan of Action for Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking 2018-2022, including strengthen our institutional capacity to protect survivors of trafficking, prevent human trafficking and prosecute traffickers,” he added.

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