Workshop on counter-trafficking
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNODC) under the framework of the Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants-Bangladesh (GLO.ACT-Bangladesh) organised an online workshop on engaging university students with UNODC Education for Justice trafficking in persons (TIP) and smuggling of migrants (SOM) modules on Friday, 17th September 2021. The workshop was organised in partnership with Eastern University as a part of GLO.ACT-Bangladesh Education for Justice (E4J) initiative. The workshop aimed to implement the mandates of the E4J Modules by familiarising the materials with the students and enabling them to explore the opportunity to engage them in awareness-raising on human trafficking and migrant smuggling. 151 students actively participated in the workshop and learnt about TIP and SOM.
The workshop was graced by Justice Mr. Obaidul Hassan, Judge of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh as the Chief Guest. Mr. Abu Mohammad Amin Uddin, Attorney General of Bangladesh, was also present as the Guest of Honour and Professor Dr. Bishwajit Chanda, member of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh, was the Special Guest of the workshop.
Among other guests, Dr. Shahid Akhter Hossain, Vice Chancellor of Eastern University Professor, Professor Dr. Md. Anowar Zahid, Dean of Faculty of Law, Eastern University, Ms. Aimée Comrie, GLO.ACT Project Coordinator, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, UNODC Headquarters, and Mr. Sergey Kapinos, UNODC South Asia Regional Office Representative were present.
The opening session was chaired by Dr. Shahid Akhter Hossain and the moderator of the workshop, Mr. A.B.M. Imdadul Haque Khan, Chairperson of Faculty of Law, Eastern University, highlighted the objective of the workshop after welcoming the guests.
Greeting the guest and participants, Ms. Aimée Comrie appreciated the commendable effort made by the Government of Bangladesh especially during the COVID-19 period and stressed the vulnerabilities of students as one of the highest-risk populations as victims of trafficking and smuggling. Meanwhile Mr. Sergey Kapinos remarked, "UNODC believes that education is the key ally in defending the rights of migrant workers and protecting the victims of human trafficking and vulnerable migrant workers. Empathy, reflecting diversity and being able to recognise discrimination and challenges are key skills that young people should have today."
Dr. Bishwajit Chanda pointed out that human trafficking is one of the fastest growing illegal enterprise every year with an estimated 2,25,000 Bangladeshis resorting to migration for short term employment. Moreover, there is a large dark figure of unregulated migrants who might become victims of trafficking or migrant smuggling.
Attorney General, Mr. Abu Mohammad Amin Uddin in his observation stated, "Bangladesh has made significant improvement in combating trafficking in person by setting up 07 anti-human trafficking tribunal and taking action against the recruiting agencies who exploits the migrants. Human trafficking cannot be solved by a single entity rather cumulative effort of judiciary, lawyers, government and non-government organizations is required."
The Chief Guest, Justice Mr. Obaidul Hassan remarked that from January 2020 to March 2021, at least 707 human trafficking cases have been filed which is alarming. 10,500 human traffickers have been arrested till 2021. However, only 71 offenders among the arrested were convicted and only 282 cases have been disposed of till date. He highlighted that the disposal rate is less than 5% and conviction rate is 0.6% only. Justice Mr. Obaidul Hassan concluded his speech by imploring the judiciary and executive machinery to speed up by educating the masses and securing their access to justice. The idea of including TIP and SOM related materials in the national curricula was also suggested and appreciated by the guests.
The workshop consisted of several academic and interactive sessions. Mr. Mahdy Hassan, National Project Coordinator of GLO.ACT-Bangladesh, UNODC Programme Office in Bangladesh provided an overview of the GLO.ACT-Bangladesh project. Following his session, Ms. Zoi Sakelliadou, Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer, Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling Section, Organised Crime and Illicit Trafficking Branch, UNODC Vienna discussed the development of UNODC E4J University Modules on TIP and SOM.
The facilitators of the workshop were invited from among the participants of the "Online Expert Workshop with University Faculty members: Teaching on Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants" organised previously by the GLO.ACT-Bangladesh team from 25-26 August 2020, and included Mr. Md Khalid Rahman, Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Dr. MD Parvez Sattar, Ms. Nasmin Jabin Noor, Ms. Meherba Sabrin and Ms. Rehnuma Binte Mamun. At the end of the session, the participants were provided with a case study to assess their learning from the workshop. After the question & answer session, the moderator concluded the workshop thanking all the guests, organisers, facilitators and participants.
Event cover by Law Desk.