Cases against human traffickers and middlemen are piling up in Chattogram's court due to delays to witness testimony plus a lack of logistics support and budget – causing immense suffering for those seeking justice.
From 2012 to 2020, a total of 288 cases were filed under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012 in Chattogram. However, just 11 cases have been disposed of by the court so far while 277 cases are pending.
Of the pending cases, 119 are waiting for witness testimony. The data was revealed at a conference of USAID and Winrock International titled "Case Monitoring Conference" held in Chattogram on Monday.
The conference was addressed by: a victim, NGO workers, prosecutors, and judges.
The Bangladesh Society for the Enforcement of Human Rights (BSEHR) is working on human trafficking issues in Chattogram under the project of Bangladesh Counter Trafficking-In-Persons Program supported by the United States Agency for International Development and Winrock International.
BSEHR revealed that since 2012 a total of 1,499 cases were filed and only 94 were disposed of in five districts of their working area: Dhaka, Chattogram, Tangail, Faridpur, and Sirajgonj.
The speakers at the conference said that all the tiers of the judiciary – like the police, prosecution and court – should work together to ensure justice and the disposal of cases on time to mitigate the suffering of those seeking justice.
A victim of human trafficking alleged that her case was pending in the court as the investigation officer of the case is not coming to the court for his testimony.
Kamrun Nahar Rumi, chief judicial magistrate of Chattogram said, "The justice is delayed at the tribunal for lack of logistics support." She also said, "There is not enough in the budget and no permanent prosecutor."
He urged for there to be more publicity about the effect of the human trafficking law – using different media outlets to prevent human trafficking – and urged that root-level people be kept in the existing Human Trafficking Prevention Committee for it to be effective.
Farhana Lokman, district legal aid officer and senior assistant judge of Cumilla, presented about different aspects of the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012 under the title "Human Trafficking: Bangladesh Perspective."
Meanwhile, advocate Jamal Hossain, acting public prosecutor, spoke about the challenges and lenitions of the tribunal during his speech.
The program was presided over by Adv Moktar Ahmed, president of the Chattogram District Bar Association.
It was also addressed by: Additional CJM Farida Yasmin; Deputy Attorney General Abul Hasem; Adv Mozahidul Islam, manager prosecution of Winrock International; Md Mozzamel Haque, program manager of BSEHR; and public prosecutors of different Chattogram courts.
Among others, Muklesur Rahman Farhadi, general secretary of BSEHR Chattogram; and journalist Mostafa Imran were present.