How far the demand of BAIRA (Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies) to amend Bangladesh’s anti-human trafficking law logical, when international organisations, including the United Nations, have been appreciating the law and various steps taken by the government?
BAIRA's logic is that the law should not be applicable to those who legally send workers abroad. They also raise objections over conducting raids and seizure of equipment at the recruiters' office without warrants. They met the home minister and placed their objection in September last.
Overseas recruiters need not to be worried if the government takes legal actions against the human traffickers. But they are being worried as a section of recruiting agents is involved in human trafficking in the name of sending workers. According to a Prothom Alo report, in support of BAIRA's demand, foreign minister AK Abdul Momen wrote a letter to law minister Anisul Huq. Mentioning about a letter of the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment affairs state minister (now minister) on 25 June 2019, the foreign minister recommended to take necessary steps to amend the law.
BAIRA secretary general has said the law enforcing agencies filed a case under the anti-human trafficking law instead of following the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act if anyone makes allegations after returning from abroad. As a result, the recruiting agents get arrested and they have to serve in jail for six to seven months.
Misuse of any law is not expected as this obstructs the purpose of the law while the innocents are harassed. There must be a remedy if the human trafficking act is misused and anyone is harassed by police.
The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act was formulated in 2012. Subject to approval, up to sub-inspector of police has been given jurisdiction to conduct search and seize equipment. Police can conduct raids without warrants. But the condition is that the crime has actually occurred.
It should be kept in mind that the anti-human trafficking law is not against the overseas recruiters. BAIRA has no reason to be worried about the act being very tough. They run businesses legally.
Unfortunately, a section of overseas recruiters is involved in human trafficking in the name of sending workers. Trapped by them, many people suffer inhuman life abroad. Many drown in the seas and die in the desert before reaching their destinations. So BAIRA should take organisational actions against the corrupt recruiters alongside assisting the government in applying the law.
BAIRA expressed concerns over the arrest of overseas recruiter Sheikh Abdur Rahman alias Himu in connection with the allegation of a worker in Brunei. But the worker who became crippled reaching there, to whom will he seek justice and compensation?
There is a remedy if police make any excess in enforcing the law. We think there is no scope to bring amendment to the anti-human trafficking law, which will create opportunities for the traffickers.