Bringing human traffickers to justice

Update: | Print Edition

The unearthing of mass graves in Thailand, containing the bodies of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas, created a sensation around the world. It shook the foundations of the military government there. That was just two years ago. Since then the verdict of the case has been passed. We consider the sentence passed by the Thai criminal court on 19 July, to be a milestone verdict against human trafficking in Asia.

It is significant that over 50 persons were convicted in this case, including a Thai general, Lt Gen Manas Kongpan, who was sentenced to 27 years’ imprisonment, and former politician Pajjuban sentenced to 75 years. This incident shows that if the top leadership of the country has the political will, no incident can escape justice. No one can evade justice simply by being powerful. Even those close to the centre of power will not escape if they are guilty of committing crime. By trying someone so close to the power does not demean the government in any way. Rather, it enhances the respect of the government.

A large number of Bangladeshis and Rohingyas were victim of the same despicable human trafficking incident. Yet the suspected Bangladesh and Rohingya members of this evil ring remain out of reach. We do not know what Aung San Suu Kyi’s government is doing about this in Myanmar. It would have been expected that the two neighbouring countries, Bangladesh and Myanmar, would carry out a joint inquiry into the matter.

Dhaka has disappointed. We are furious at the customary nonchalance of the investigation and the prosecution. The Thai court verdict had given us cause for introspection. The chief prosecutor there, in face of threats from the powerful quarters among the accused, even fled the country to Australia. But the trial did not halt.

Investigations into two of the three cases in Bangladesh haven’t even been completed in two years. Investigations in one case is complete but there is no sign of any trial. And the police have failed to nab four of the seven accused.

We hope the Thai court’s verdict will be a wakeup call to Bangladesh’s authorities. We hope that the lack of justice will be addressed and that these cases will be given speedy trial. Bangladesh can surely do what Thailand has done.

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