Bangladesh should take part in human trafficking probe


The Rohingyas who fled into Bangladesh, facing crimes against humanity, are victims yet again. These crimes occurred between 2012 and 2015. A total of 800 Rohingyas died when they were being smuggled to Malaysia via Thailand from Bangladesh and Myanmar. There were Bangladeshis among them too. Within one month of the discovery of more than 30 bodies being found in a mass grave at Thailand, 139 mass graves and 28 detention centres were discovered in the Perlis state of Malaysia. Following such devastating incidents of human trafficking, the governments of Malaysia and Thailand took certain action. The accused were punished in Thailand and Malaysia, but the incidents that took place in Bangladesh and the perpetrators are still in the dark.

Over 170,000 Rohingyas and Bangladeshis have been smuggled out via sea route between 2012 and 2015. A 120-page report titled 'Sold Like Fish' was published from Malaysia Wednesday. The human rights commission in Malaysia and a private organisation, Fortify Rights, jointly ran a probe regarding this for a period of six years. This report reveals a horrifying reality of the two countries' human trafficking through the sea route. The Fortify probe committee visited Bangladesh too.

The report reflected the good political initiation of the Mahathir Mohammad-led government. This investigation can be a guide in identifying the human trafficking scenario in the Bay of the Bengal and the steps required to bring this under control. We hope the concerned law enforcement agencies in the country pay due attention to the results of the investigation and the recommendations made there. Bangladesh should be involved in such a probe too. We cannot remain negligent. There are many more aspects involved. The identified traffickers can be tried at the International Criminal Court.

The recent report confirmed that citizens from Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand and Malaysia are involved in this cross-border human trafficking syndicate. There are Bangladeshis among the trafficked persons too, but there is no indication in the report over their actual number. The traffickers targeted Bangladeshis during 2014 to 2015. Many of our responsible organisations often deny these problems rather than accepting the truth. This mindset should be changed.

A number of 401 human trafficking cases are pending since 2012 with the human trafficking tribunal at Cox's Bazar. None of these have been solved. The Thai court punished 62 persons in 2017 after mass graves were found in the country. There were nine government officials and a lieutenant colonel among them. The colonel himself had reportedly taken about nine million taka from the trafficking scam. The court in Malaysia punished four persons over the issue of the mass graves. Do not we have anything to do? Though there have been some investigations, neither Thailand nor Malaysia conducted a complete probe. But this proved that government officials from both the countries were involved in human trafficking.

The Malaysian government, however, formed an investigation commission headed by the former chief justice of the country, Tun Arifin Zakaria, on 28 February. Malaysia will conduct a complete investigation over a Bangladeshi being punished in the case of the mass grave in Perlis. Bangladesh cannot remain idle.

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