Human trafficking cases: What a cruel rule of law!

Will the home ministry look into the matter on why 95 per cent of lawsuits registered under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act are got dismissed? Or they will prepare a list of cases only? Otherwise how does the trial and sentence that took place in a woman trafficking and rape case in India remain pending at court in this country for three years? The victim woman is serving jail term in another case in India. Her father is in prison for bringing allegations against the traffickers, and the traffickers have been released. What a cruel rule of law!

According to Prothom Alo report, the home ministry prepared reports on human trafficking from January to September 2023, and as per the report, 332 cases were filed, and the accused were released in 316 of those cases. Even no accused was punished in a single case in 2021 and 2022. Does this indicate the lawsuits filed by victims were false? Or what does the government want to say with this data and statistics that no person is trafficked from Bangladesh?

Will this work anyway? The 2023 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US said Bangladesh could not fulfil the least criteria on the prevention of human trafficking, but the country is trying, and they need to increase the capacity of anti-trafficking tribunals, legal measures and involvement of law enforcement agencies.

Laws and legal system in Bangladesh face limitless allegations. Regarding the dismissal of 95 per cent cases, stakeholders the accused are getting released because of noting investigating the case properly and settling the matter with trafficking rings in exchange of money. The government shows they are desperately to stop trafficking. There are laws on the prevention of human trafficking. Last year, the government in association with the United Nations released the “First National Study on Trafficking in Persons in Bangladesh.” The government knows who are the trafficking victims and the traffickers. So, why do the accused get released then?

Regarding this, Bangladesh National Woman Lawyers' Association (BNWLA) Salma Ali said the human trafficking cases are a very profitable case for police. Investigating officers take bribes from both parties - the victims and the accused, and then delay the investigation for long. Since members of trafficking rings are very influential, the accused do not face punishment.

If rule of law is be effective, crimes cannot be prevented by enacting thousands of laws. Home ministry said instruction have been given to investigate into the randomly dismissal of cases. We welcome this initiative. It is easy to issue instruction, but it is necessary to ensure the instructions are followed at grassroots, and officials violating it must be held accountable.

There are several parties to ensure justice in human trafficking case such as migration seekers, local representatives, manpower officers, public prosecutors and tribunal judges. It is necessary to make migration seekers aware at grassroots. They should be informed that if they go aboard illegally with the help of manpower agent, they may stay in jail for the rest of their life. In addition, it is also necessary to ensure punishment to traffickers.

The government report also said trafficking occurs more in the area which is hit by economic crisis and climate change. Besides, people fall prey to manpower agent because of higher cost on migration through government channel. The government cannot ensure justice to the victims of human trafficking, so least they pay attention that none becomes victim of trafficking.