‘Bangladesh needs more int’l support to address trafficking’

Staff Correspondent . Dhaka | Update:

Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque addresses a consultative workshop titled ‘Comprehensive Responses to Trafficking in Persons’ held in Dhaka on Sunday. Photo: Collected

It is hard for any country to stop human trafficking as a huge profit is made out of it, foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said.

“We need more support from the international community to address the human trafficking issue. International collaboration is a must. But there is huge crisis in terms of international cooperation,” the foreign secretary told a consultative workshop titled ‘Comprehensive Responses to Trafficking in Persons’ held in Dhaka on Sunday.

IOM Bangladesh, as a coordinator and secretariat of UN Migration Network, organised the event in coordination with the foreign ministry and the home ministry with financial support from US Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL).

Shahidul Haque said, “The mode of trafficking is changing rapidly. If you want to combat trafficking with the old model, you will fail.”

There is a huge gap between action and the actual trafficking business, he said adding that trafficking was a complex issue.

Shahidul Haque said trafficking should be brought under the umbrella of migration, adding, “you can’t talk about migration, unless you talk about trafficking.”

“We want to reduce vulnerabilities and we have taken a lot of initiatives. Recently, the government has decided to ratify the Palermo protocol to prevent trafficking in persons.”

Addressing the issue at the consultation, IOM Bangladesh Chief of Mission Girogi Gigauri said, “Lack of job opportunities, poor awareness on safe migration, high costs of migration are some of the pull factors to irregular migration.”

He said they are prioritising the rights and wellbeing of migrants and their communities of destination, origin, and transit.

“We are always with the government to end human trafficking,” he said.

Political counselor at the US embassy in Bangladesh, Brent Christensen, said, “We view trafficking in persons as a serious crime. Bangladesh was ranked on the Tier 2 Watch List causing concern for many people.”
He said the report’s most critical recommendation advises Bangladesh to ‘significantly increase prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offenses.’ “We believe Bangladesh has a constructive action plan to prevent human trafficking. The focus now must be implementation.”

UN Resident Coordinator in Bangladesh, Mia Seppo, said, “Trafficking disproportionately affects people who are already discriminated against and vulnerable to exploitation and exclusion.”

She noted the main challenges revolve around coordination, capacity, resources and data.

Foreign secretary Shahidul Haque addresses a consultative workshop titled ‘Comprehensive Responses to Trafficking in Persons’ held in Dhaka on Sunday. Photo: CollectedThe efforts to prevent trafficking in persons require creative and coordinated responses, Mia Seppo said, adding that the state must also do more to support the victims and survivors of trafficking.

Additional secretary of the home ministry Abu Bakar Siddique said, “Globally trafficking is the third largest business. We have already taken many institutional initiatives at a national and local level to prevent trafficking. We have some limitations too. We have the shortage of manpower where migration smuggling is a big concerning issue. However, we have to work together to combat human trafficking.”

The consultative workshop brought together government bodies, UN agencies, donors and NGOs to find out the ways as to how all parties can best support the government in its effort to combat human trafficking.

Resident legal advisor at US Department of Justice Eric Opanga, INCIDIN executive director AKM Masud Ali, IOM senior migration protection specialist Jonathan Martens were among the participants who talked at the consultative workshop. 

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