We are quite dismayed to know that between February 2012 and June 2018, despite a recorded number of 4,152 cases of human trafficking, only 25 people have been convicted. To understand the implications of such a low conviction rate, let us point out that these cases involve the trafficking of over five thousand men, a thousand women and over 800 children. Yesterday was World Day against Trafficking in Persons and this is a poor show of our commitment to stop this nefarious trade in humans.
The gravity of the situation has been regularly reported by the media including this paper. A study by Indian Border Security Force states that around 50,000 Bangladeshi girls are trafficked to or through India every year. In 2015, mass graves of Rohingyas and Bangladeshis were found in bordering areas of Malaysia and Thailand. There have been extensive reports of human trafficking gangs in Libya and Iran who have kidnapped Bangladeshis seeking jobs abroad and held them hostage for ransom.
Human trafficking is one of the most difficult crimes to combat because of the complex nexus between various actors that include the actual trafficking gangs, corrupt law enforcers and public officials as well as very influential people. It is complex because it occurs across borders. But every country that is affected by this crime must do its best to make sure these gangs are caught and convicted. Bangladesh has enacted the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act in 2012, but the pathetic number of convictions since then is an indication that there are loopholes in the legal process and a culture of impunity that allows those who are at the helm of these rings, to get away. Seven tribunals were apparently supposed to be set up by the government to exclusively deal with cases of human trafficking. But till date this has not materialised.
Unless the investigation process is efficient and thorough and until the masterminds of human trafficking are caught and convicted, this terrible curse will continue to rob our people of livelihoods, dignity and sometimes, their very lives.