Strong surveillance, actions needed to contain trafficking: experts

Diplomatic Correspondent | Published: 01:56, Sep 16,2019


Diplomats attend a workshop on ‘comprehensive responses to trafficking in persons’ organised by International Organisation on Migration at InterContinental Dhaka on Sunday. — New Age photo

Foreign and local experts on Sunday stressed the need for installing well-built surveillance at the grassroots level with coordinated actions by the government to prevent trafficking. 

‘Keep every village under the eyes,’ International Organisation for Migration chief of mission in Dhaka Giorgi Gigauri said while emphasising the need for strengthening surveillance at the grassroots level to contain trafficking. 

He said this at a consultative workshop in Dhaka with foreign secretary M Shahidul Haque in the chair.

Shahidul Haque said that human trafficking took place under the cover of migration globally and there were risks of undesirable outcome, including exploitation and restrictions on freedom of movement.

Bangladesh would become a party to the UN-led Palermo Protocol meant to prevent, suppress and punish perpetrators of trafficking in persons, he said, adding that the government believed in safe, orderly and regular migration.

Mentioning the procedures set with the European Union countries to bring back a section of Bangladeshis home, the foreign secretary said Bangladesh would leave no one abroad illegally. ‘We are duty-bound to bring back people living abroad without proper documents,’  he added.

A total of 770 trafficked persons were reported in the first investigation report in 2017 while 778 cases were lodged with the police and 546 trafficked persons were rescued, of which 152 were women and 91 children, said a IOM concept note.

By way of an example it said 834 migrants came back from Libya in 2018, which was 55 per cent of the total number of returnees to Bangaldesh, and 507 migrants in 2019. 

Trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants were global phenomena and they were also a growing concern for Bangladesh, it said, adding that, ‘There is evidence that both in-country and cross-border trafficking exist in Bangladesh.’

People from rural areas with minimal survival options and those who suffer the worst form of discriminatory socio-cultural practices were the ones more likely to be lured and deceived with promises of a better life and more lucrative opportunities.

At least 420 Rohingyas have become victims of human trafficking in the last two years, according to an assessment of the IOM.

Trafficking situation in Cox’s Bazar district exacerbated since the beginning of the latest Rohingya influx in August 2017 and the total number of victims was 420 till June 2019, it said.

UN resident coordinator Mia Seppo said there was an urgent need to create more opportunities for livelihood and to establish a coordination mechanism among government authorities to prevent and contain trafficking. 

IOM’s regional migration specialist Jonathan Martens described trafficking under cover of migration as a ‘clandestine crime.’

Home ministry additional secretary Abu Bakar Siddique, US diplomats Brent Christensen and Eric Openga, Marina Yakunina of UNODC and INCIDIN executive director AKM Masud Ali also spoke on the occasion.

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