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Migrant smuggling an invisible crime

  • Published at 02:58 am March 12th, 2017
Migrant smuggling an invisible crime
Because how few seek legal recourse when they have been thus deceived, and because they left the country legally, none of the law enforcement agencies or the relevant authorities have any idea how many people have been victimised. Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has dealt with many such cases, says the recruiting agencies and brokers who carry out these crimes get away easily through loopholes. What few cases the law enforcement has come across and researchers have studied, show that job seekers are taken legally to a transit country first and then smuggled to other countries under false promises. RAB, Criminal Investigation Department (CID) and Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) has handled migrant smuggling cases, but they can only investigate when a specific complaint is lodged. There are no recent cases of law enforcement or government drives and investigations into this issue. Migrant smuggling is not identified uniquely by law, rather is covered by the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012 and the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013. Law enforcers say the two laws could be enough to address the issues but completing the trial and executing the verdict very soon is needed. Hamidul Islam, 32, of Bogra who was stopped by RAB on January 17 just before boarding a plane to Indonesia at Dhaka Airport, told the Dhaka Tribune that he did not go to the local manpower office because they were unfriendly. To him, local brokers were more reliable as they ensured his journey without hassle. Asked about his destination, he said he did not know as he was illiterate and could not read his passport. The brokers had told him he had a job in Malaysia but would have to go through Indonesia. Former commanding officer of RAB 3, Lt Col Khandaker Golam Sarwar, who has worked extensively on these cases, told the Dhaka Tribune licensed recruiting agencies were also involved in this crime. “They may not be carrying out the crime but they help smugglers get Bangladesh Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) certificate for the workers to send abroad,” he explained. CID Sub-Inspector Newton Kumar Dutta, who is investigating such a case, said the victim was first taken to Singapore legally and then sent to Syria without her knowledge. “This would not be possible if an authorised recruiting agency had not helped them,” he said. RAB 3 second-in-command Major Mehedi Hasan said the problem with the smuggling was that the brokers sent the migrant workers legally, at least part of the way. “When law enforcers charge them, they just say: We sent them legally and where they went from there is their business,” he said. Human traficker Siraj Shikder, who has confessed to the police to smuggling and trafficking more than 150 women, took assistance from the recruiting agency Al Habib Overseas to obtain BMET certificates. Owner of the agency Habibur Rahman is currently on the run. Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) Joint Secretary General Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman said they worked for safe migration and none of their agencies were involved in human trafficking or smuggling. Prof Tasnim Siddiqui, chair of the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) at Dhaka University, said the unit interviewed 150 migrant workers who had returned home and found that most had gone abroad through brokers and were victimised. “The local manpower offices need to be more active and people need to be made aware to end this,” she said. When contacted, Joint Secretary (Employment) of Expatriates’ Ministry Narayan Chandra Barma only said he had recently joined the post and did not know well about the matter.