The US State Department's Global Human Trafficking Report last June revealed that Bangladesh's position has been upgraded from a ‘second tier swatch list’ to a ‘second tier’ country. It also spoke about Bangladesh's progress in preventing human trafficking. We hoped after the recognition Bangladesh would no longer be called source of human trafficking. But recent events have shown that human trafficking has not stopped.

Recent reports about human trafficking are very worrying. The case of trafficking of women from Bangladesh to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates came to light in September after five members of an organised trafficking ring were arrested. Women as members of dance group were taken there and engaged in sex work. It has been reported in the media that some Bangladeshi dancers are involved in this trafficking. Dubai police informed Bangladesh about the trafficking of women. Our law enforcement can take no credit in this regard.

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Less than a month later, the news of Bangladeshis found in groups in the forests of Eastern Europe was very disturbing. According to Prothom Alo, many Bangladeshis as well as citizens of other countries was going to Bosnia and Slovenia over the past year to migrate to Italy. Bosnia and Croatia or Slovenia and Croatia have become main routes for human trafficking in Europe.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) opened seven camps to deal with illegal immigrants. After the Bosnian authorities evacuated the camps, residents took refuge in Bosnian forests and abandoned buildings along the border. The latest news is that the Slovenian police have returned 53 Bangladeshis to Croatia. The fate of the others is not known yet.

In the first eight months of 2020, a total of 3,325 Bangladeshis reached Europe via the Mediterranean and land routes. Besides, 3,771, 5,096, 3,139, 2,277 and 1,319 people died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea from 2015 to 2019 respectively. Not only in Europe or Malaysia, there are several routes to Australia and New Zealand by sea via Malaysia or Indonesia.

It is also necessary to find out how an employee of the ministry of expatriate welfare who travels abroad 15 times a year can open a recruiting agency in her husband’s name. Human trafficking can never be stopped if the big fishes are not removed.
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At this moment it is necessary to rescue the Bangladeshis stranded in Croatia and bring them back to the country. If necessary, the help of international organisations should be taken. The government has always been lax in preventing human trafficking. The authorities get alert after an incident of such trafficking comes to light. Some of the traffickers also get arrested. Nothing happens after that.

It is an open secret that human traffickers are involved with people in charge of various agencies, including the border guards. Apart from this, there are allegations that some dishonest officials of the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment also involved in this matter. It is also necessary to find out how an employee of the ministry of expatriate welfare who travels abroad 15 times a year can open a recruiting agency in her husband’s name. Human trafficking can never be stopped if the big fishes are not removed.

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The government needs to take more effective and durable action to stop human trafficking from Bangladesh. First, the strict laws against human trafficking must be properly enforced. Second, employment must be increased within the country so that the trafficking ring does not get a chance to tempt the unemployed. However, the most important thing in preventing human trafficking is to bring the traffickers to justice.