The ability of Bangladesh's law enforcement agencies and other agencies concerned has greatly improved in human trafficking investigation techniques and awareness building, said the US embassy in Dhaka.
Both countries have been closely cooperating to prevent human trafficking for more than a decade and Bangladesh has been moving in the right direction for the last 5 years, embassy officials said at a background briefing on the 2022 Trafficking In Persons (TIP) Report of the US government, at The American Center on Thursday.
Between 2012 and March last year, less than 1% of human trafficking cases ended in conviction, according to the Brac Migration Programme.
The embassy said it is working closely with human trafficking suppression tribunals in Bangladesh to resolve cases quickly.
The 2022 TIP report that covers 188 countries including the US will be published next week.
"You have to see the report next week on what tier Bangladesh is currently on," the officials said at the briefing.
The report ranks countries in three tiers. Countries assessed as meeting the Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 or TVPA's minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking are placed on Tier-1.
In the TIP report 2021, Bangladesh was in Tier-2, as the government does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of human trafficking.
The countries which are not meeting minimum TVPA standards but making efforts are placed on Tier-2.
"Now, the goal is to be in Tier-1. We always encourage the Bangladesh government to strongly consider recommendations that we put at the top of the report," said a female official, asking not to be named.
"We work very closely with different groups. I think there are several areas where the Bangladesh government has taken it as an opportunity to work with USAID and other international organisations to meet the standard of the TIP report," she said.
"We try to build the capacity of police, prosecutors, judges so that they understand the whole legal framework of The Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2012, and three other rules and international standards," she said.
Mentioning the seven tribunals in seven divisions of the country, she said, "We work with the judges of the tribunals so that they understand the importance of disposing of cases as quickly as possible."
"We are trying to set up a small task force, consisting of policemen and prosecutors, at the tribunals so that they can work closely, and can track the progress of the cases that are important to address sooner," she said.
"In terms of awareness building and investigation techniques of law enforcement agencies, I would say their capacity has increased a lot, but I think we can have more (work) on that," the embassy official said.
Regarding the consequences for a country moving down from Tier-2 to Tier-3, she said, "A country that moves downward faces automatic cut-off in millions of dollars of assistance. It does not impact humanitarian assistance and certain trade-related assistance, but very dramatically cuts the amount of money the US can provide."
The countries which are not meeting minimum TVPA standards and not making significant efforts to meet them are placed on Tier-3.
When asked about allegations raised by some countries that such reports are used by the US authorities to put pressure on foreign governments, another embassy official replied, "We use it as a tool for partnerships, not as a way to punish countries."