The government has finally decided to deport around 11,000 foreigners staying illegally in Bangladesh without valid documents.
Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haque disclosed the decision after a meeting of the cabinet committee on law and order at the secretariat yesterday.
“Intelligence agencies have identified the foreigners staying illegally. The problem is that they have no money to return home…. So we will request the government to allocate money so that we can send them back to their respective countries,” he told journalists.
According to law enforcers, a large number of undocumented foreigners are from different African countries. Many foreiners are involved in crimes.
Jail sources said a total of 633 foreigners were behind bars till yesterday. Of them, 56 are serving jail terms while 500 facing trial. Besides, processes are underway to deport the rest of them as their jail terms have expired.
Talking to The Daily Star, an official at the headquarters of the Department of Prisons said no foreign mission in Dhaka has contacted the Bangladesh authorities to take back their nationals who served jail terms.
Law enforcers say many migrants enter Bangladesh as footballers, students, or businessmen, but they overstay their visas. They never try to return home.
Even the Dhaka missions of some countries do not respond to communications from the Bangladeshi authorities concerned.
An official of the Detective Branch of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police said many foreigners destroy their passports immediately after their arrival in Bangladesh so that law enforcers cannot identify their nationalities.
He said they face problems in identifying the nationalities of illegal foreigners as many African countries do not have a mission in Dhaka.
The Security Control Organisation (SCO) of the Special Branch of police usually deals with the foreigners.
According to SCO officials, unlike other countries, Bangladesh has no mechanism to deal with illegal migrants. There is no fund for deporting those held by police.
“We don’t have a deportation centre to detain illegal foreigners until confirming their identities and communicating with the authorities concerned abroad,” said an SCO official, preferring anonymity.
SB officials said Bangladesh’s law does not permit law enforcers to detain a foreign national without bringing formal charges against him. And that’s why the law enforcers have no other option but to implicate him in cases over criminal activities or illegal stay in the country.
Some illegal foreigners even choose to go to jail instead of being deported as they think that they will be able to stay in Bangladesh until the cases against them are disposed of, added the officials.
The foreigners usually walk out of jail on bail within a couple of months or a year, according to law enforcers.
An SB official said, “We wrote several times to the authorities concerned about the problems…. It’s good that the government is taking steps in this regard [deportation] finally.”
Under the existing law, the maximum punishment for overstaying visas is five years’ jail term and a fine.
ALLEGATIONS AGAINST EX-SP HARUN
Talking to journalists after the cabinet committee meeting, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan said allegations against former Narayanganj superintendent of police Muhammad Harun Or Rashid would be investigated.
“We have just transferred him. An investigation into the allegations will be launched,” he said in response to a query from a journalist.
Harun was transferred to the Police Headquarters on Sunday amid allegations of trying to extort a businessman, and framing him and his driver for possessing drugs and illegal firearms.