83 migrant workers from Vietnam and Qatar were sent to jail on September 1
Members of the civil society have condemned and demanded immediate and unconditional release of 83 migrant workers who were arrested and sent to jail following their return from Vietnam and Qatar.
A statement signed by 44 prominent civil society members was issued in this regard on Thursday, according to a press release.
The signatories of the statement urged the government to take necessary steps for the immediate and unconditional release of the victims and to provide them adequate compensation in accordance with the law.
On September 1, police arrested 83 migrant workers — 81 from Vietnam and two from Qatar — after they completed 14 days in quarantine at Diabari Camp in Dhaka.
A Dhaka court sent them to jail as police found that they planned destructive activities including anti-government movement during their stay at the quarantine centre.
On July 4, 219 expatriate Bangladeshis, who had returned from Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, were sent to prison for their alleged involvements in attempts to tarnish the image of the Bangladesh government.
The civil society members claimed that the two incidents were similar, adding that: “We are deeply concerned about the violation of international and national law by the state in these two cases.”
According to the prayer placed to the court by the police on September 1, the arrested migrant workers were involved in various criminal activities in Vietnam and were imprisoned there.
However the civil society members claimed that the countries concerned had pardoned them and sent them back to Bangladesh, in wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those who had returned from Vietnam were not charged with any specific crime by the authorities of the country and none of them were imprisoned. Instead, they went to the Bangladesh embassy to lodge a complaint against the human traffickers and the brokers, the statement read.
The civil society members also pointed out that the language and the choice of words used by the police in its prayer to the court on July 4 were almost the same.
“Detaining someone without a warrant under Section 54 of the Criminal Procedure Code is in conflict with fundamental rights recognized by the Constitution of Bangladesh,” the statement read.
“It is to be noted that the High Court has important guidelines for the police, magistrates and tribunals in initiating criminal proceedings in this regard. We think that in these two cases the important directions of the High Court have been violated,” the statement added.
The signatories of the statement urged the government to investigate people involved including the recruiting agencies and the government officials who failed to protect the safety and rights of immigrants in Vietnam, and to take swift and impartial action against the fraudsters.
Among the signatories were Prof Emeritus Serajul Islam Choudhury, Dr Zafrullah Chowdhury of Gonoshastya Kendra; Prof Anu Muhammad of Jahangirnagar University; jurist Shahdeen Malik; Prof Parveen Hasan of Central Women's University; Prof Ali Riaz of Illinois State University; Prof Golam Mostafa of Chittagong University; Prof CR Abrar of Dhaka University; Prof Swapan Adnan of London University, and photojournalist and writer Shahidul Alam.