Legal expert Prof Dr Mizanur Rahman wants a shift in the country’s justice system -- from offender-centric to victim-centric -- to ensure wellbeing of the affected.
“What happens to victims when an offender is imprisoned? Their suffering does not end,” he said at a consultation on “Access to justice for Bangladesh migrant workers: improving the arbitration system” at a hotel in the capital yesterday.
Referring to the verdict that has sentenced 16 people to death for the murder of Nusrat Jahan Rafi, Prof Rahman said though the offenders were punished, the family did not get anything.
If the offenders were given rigorous imprisonment and the income from their labour was provided to Nusrat’s family, it could have been a fitting compensation. It would have also helped the family, said the law professor of Dhaka University.
There are arrangements for compensation to victims in selected cases, but in the modern jurisprudence, especially in the US and Europe, the justice system is victim-centric, said Prof Rahman, former chairman of National Human Rights Commission.
“This also has deterrent implications on the offences,” he told The Daily Star on the sidelines of the programme, organised by Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP).
OKUP Executive Director Shakirul Islam presented a 2018 study on 110 abused female domestic workers, who returned from the Middle East.
He said the returnees get minimal compensation while manpower brokers or recruiting agents have an upper hand in the arbitration, conducted by Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET).
Prof Rahman said women workers abroad get abused physically, mentally and even sexually.
They should be taken care of accordingly, he added.
BMET officials at yesterday’s consultation said the situation of arbitration has improved in recent times.
However, they also said there is a shortage of manpower at BMET.
Lawmaker Anisul Islam Mahmud, chairman of the parliamentary standing committee on the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry, said BMET should have a separate wing for conducting arbitration. He said BMET must ensure fairness and justice in the arbitration process.
The manpower brokers, who now operate both at home and abroad, should come under a legal framework so that they can be held accountable, Mahmud said.