We are relieved that the unwarranted and unexpected ordeal of the 81 workers deported from Vietnam has ended after more than a month of incarceration. They are among the many victims who have fallen prey to a system of recruitment that is controlled by a dishonest and duplicitous cabal, both inside and outside the administration, cheating hundreds of illiterate and unsuspecting Bangladeshis seeking employment abroad. This particular group was sent to Vietnam for jobs that did not exist and with visas that were perhaps obtained fraudulently.
Surprisingly, on deportation, they were jailed for "tarnishing the image of the country." Our politicians and government employees, living in a country where the economy (and possibly, their wages) is supported by the hard-earned remittances of these poor expatriate workers, have reduced the dignity of the country's "image" to such a level that ventilating ones' grievances in front of one's own embassy is considered as an image–damaging act. That was the alleged reason they were sent to prison for. These workers were also supposed to have participated in crimes, although such allegations are yet to be substantiated.
We wonder whether, instead of putting these unfortunate workers in jail at the very first instance, the authorities should not have taken the trouble of inquiring into the reason for their deportation/return only a few months after going to Vietnam. If they had, they would have discovered the scam that these men had been victims of. They did not get a regular job, and for most of the eight or ten months that they were in Vietnam, they were unemployed and came back without a penny in their pocket, after having spent three to four lakh Taka to go there. And instead of putting them behind bars, the authorities would have taken to task the middlemen and the recruiting agencies involved in this scam.
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and the Ministry of Overseas Employment should come together to find those who are exploiting the system using the loopholes, and also those in the administration that conspire in the process to cheat poor workers, as revealed by a special report in this daily on October 11. The dubious middlemen, and in certain cases the recruiting agencies, manage to cover their tracks in a way that they cannot be linked to the process, as several of them have done in this case too. However, tracing them is by no means a difficult job. All that is required is honest oversight of the process up and down the chain—from the ministry to the immigration at the airport. Without complicity of some dishonest persons inside the administration at various stages, such gross irregularities cannot occur.