Brunei-going Bangladeshi workers with BMET smartcards being trafficked

Md Owasim Uddin Bhuyan | Published: 02:21, Feb 03,2020


Increasing number of Bangladeshi workers migrating to Brunei with unattested visas are falling victims to trafficking, according to Bangladesh High Commission in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Officials told New Age that these migrants on arrival in Brunei complain to the Bangladesh High Commission that they had spent several days without food and that many of them became victims of trafficking.

Some corrupt officials of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training were involved with issuing smartcards against non-existing jobs in Brunei that land the workers in unending miseries.

In August 2017, Bangladesh High Commission in Brunei began attesting the job visas to ensure jobs, insurance coverage and other benefits for the Bangladeshi migrant workers, officials said.

Bangladesh High Commission attested  4558 visas in 2018 and 3869 visas in  2019, according  to labour attaché Jelal Hossain’s  letter sent to the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry secretary.

Quoting Brunei immigration department data, the Bangladesh High Commission informed the EWOE ministry that at least 18,000 Bangladeshi workers entered Brunei in 2018 and another 16,000 in 2019.

Though Bangladesh High Commission cancelled attestation of 41 visas offered by Motiar Rahaman Sdn Bhd and Omar Sdn Bhd after detecting that they had no project and informed the BMET about the situation.

Even after this, BMET issued smartcards in favour of Motiar Rahaman Sdn Bhd and Omar Sdn Bhd and the victim workers informed the high commission about this.

Workers said that after they had arrived at the Brunei airport, the proprietors of  Mehedi Hasan Saddam of Pirojpur, Mojibnagar, Meherpur seized their passports and detained them inside a closed room.

Mehedi Hasan tortured them whenever they demanded jobs said the victims.

Bangladesh High Commission said   Mehedi Hasan Saddam owns Motiar Rahaman Sdn Bhd and his brother Mehedi Hasan Bijon is a Brunei based human trafficker and visa trader.

Mehedi Hasan Bijon who owns 15 Brunei based recruiting companies including Tasnim Sdn Bhd,  Mh Jannat Sdn Bhd and MMH Sdn Bhd brings and puts Bangladeshi workers into problems in Brunei.

Bangladeshi workers were brought to Brunei either through ‘body contract’ arrangements with BMET using its smartcards or by trafficking them via Malaysia, said officials.

In 2019, Bangladesh High Commission in Brunei received at least 1,450 complaints mostly against these companies.

Bangladesh High Commission requested EWOE ministry to take action against all involved with the process.

Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program chairman Shakirul Islam requested the government to identify and punish corrupt BMET officials involved in issuing smartcards to victimize the poor workers.

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