Home Bangladesh No headway in 3704 pending human trafficking cases
Bangladesh - 3 weeks ago

No headway in 3704 pending human trafficking cases

No capital punishment in 5-yr

Staff Correspondent: Settlement and conviction rates in human trafficking cases are very low. Only 524 cases related to this have been settled in the courts of the country from 2019 to 2023. The accused have been sentenced in 31 of them. The conviction rate is only 5.87 percent. In other words, 94 percent of the accused have been acquitted.
Accused in 497 cases have been acquitted. In 5 years, not a single case was sentenced to death. In 2019, life sentence was given in 17 cases, but no life sentence was given in any other case in the next 4 years. This information has emerged in a report of the Ministry of Home Affairs.
Crime researchers and law enforcement officials say that there is a directive to dispose of human trafficking law cases within 180 working days of filing a complaint. However, after years of hanging, the victims became frustrated and forced to compromise with the accused.
If we want to reduce serious crimes like human trafficking, it is important to ensure speedy trial and punishment of criminals and exemplary punishment.
Social and crime researcher and Dhaka University teacher Touhidul Haque told that the different situation in Bangladesh in terms of proper application of the law against people accused in the case of human trafficking is noticeable.
Various types of complaints are visible including the investigation process of these cases, handling of cases, presence of witnesses in court, intimidation of witnesses, applying pressure and spreading influence to withdraw cases. The Prevention and Suppression of Trafficking in Persons Act, 2012 provides for maximum penalties for the offense of organized human trafficking. Section 7 of this Act states that a person who commits the crime of organized human trafficking shall be punished with death penalty or rigorous imprisonment for a term not exceeding 7 years and fine for a term not exceeding 5 years. Seven anti-trafficking tribunals were formed in March 2020 in Dhaka, Chittagong, Sylhet, Khulna, Rajshahi, Rangpur and Barisal to try cases of human trafficking.
Analysis of the report of the Ministry of Home Affairs shows that there are 3,704 human trafficking cases pending (awaiting trial) in the courts of the country including the tribunals from 2019 to 2023. Among them, the number of pending cases is 2,880. Of which 828 cases are under investigation. The total number of accused in these cases is 34,509 people. Where 15,342 people have been arrested in 5 years.
The case settlement and sentencing data shows year-wise, the highest number of cases settled in 2023. 436 cases were settled that year. In that year, the accused were convicted in 21 cases and the accused were acquitted in 415 cases. However, no accused was sentenced to death or life sentence in a single case that year. In 2022, 37 cases were settled, where all the accused were acquitted. Again in 2021, only two cases were settled. That year also all the accused were acquitted. 14 cases were settled in 2020. In that year, the accused were convicted in only one case and the accused were acquitted in the remaining 13 cases. The second highest number of cases before 2023 was settled in 2019. 39 cases were settled that year, in which 9 cases were convicted and 30 cases were acquitted.
According to the statistics of human trafficking crime suppression tribunal in Dhaka, 1,255 cases have been resolved since the formation of the tribunal till 2023. Out of these only 45 cases have convicted the accused. That is, only 3.5 percent of the cases have been sentenced and 96 percent of the cases have been acquitted. Tribunal data showed 229 settlements in 2023, while 14 cases were sentenced. In 2022, 576 cases were disposed of, in which 14 cases were sentenced. In 2021, 413 cases were settled, in which 17 cases were sentenced. Apart from this, 37 cases were settled from March 12 to December 31, 2020, where all the accused were acquitted.
Dhaka bar lawyer Mohiuddin Ahmed Kajalsaid that crime is committed in at least 6 stages from going abroad to being a victim of human trafficking and returning. Among these is through a person who becomes a victim of human trafficking, who is introduced to the gang, who intimidates the victim; Whether forced abduction or exploitation of any helplessness has been trafficked and by what route – those information needs to be collected. Apart from this, the police have to contact various agencies and embassies to carry out the investigation, which takes a lot of time. In all proceedings, if strong evidence is not produced and the evidence is not consistent, the accused are easily acquitted.
He also said that the plaintiffs in many cases are workers or workers sent abroad illegally. In that case, the case would be in light of the offenses described in Chapter VIII of the Penal Code, Fraud and Foreign Employment and Immigration Act, 2013. But because of the overzealous role of the police and sometimes the mistakes of lawyers in prosecuting cases under the Prevention and Control of Human Trafficking Act, the criminal element of the Human Trafficking Act is missing. This is also one of the reasons for acquittal.
Shariful Hasan, head of BRAC’s immigration program, told that the victims of human trafficking cases are very helpless and the accused are very influential. Due to this, he was subjected to harassment in various ways from the case to the trial and was forced to compromise at one time. Apart from this, there is a lot of pressure on our judges. Also lack of proper documentation from charge sheet to hearing and lack of sincerity of government lawyers.
Bangladesh National Women Lawyers Association President Advocate Salma Ali told that witnesses in human trafficking cases do not come to court properly. The accused continued to press for withdrawing the case. Timely filing of cases and ensuring speedy trial through proper supervision will increase the rate of disposal of cases and punishment of the accused.
CID chief and Additional Inspector General of Police Mohammad Ali told that after the charge sheet of many cases, the trafficking gangs and agents compromise before the trial begins. On the other hand, when the CID regularly seizes the assets of the traffickers, they compromise with the victims and submit the documents to the court and withdraw the case.
In this regard, Additional Public Prosecutor KM Sazzadul Haque Shihab of Dhaka’s Human Trafficking Crime Prevention Tribunal told that the court sometimes gives a sentence and sometimes also gives a financial penalty. Besides, if the accused are acquitted due to the failure of witnesses to appear properly and compromise, it cannot be said to be failure of the state. If the investigating officer follows proper rules from filing the case to the end, the amount of settlement and sentence will increase.

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