- Climate change is one of the major causes of human trafficking and irregular migration
- The Covid-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war have complicated the issue
- There are socio-economic inequalities and intense internal migratory flows in this region
- Borders between some countries in this region are open and porous
- Growing economies, combined with corruption, weak criminal justice systems, and unequal law enforcement capacities, offer opportunities for organised crime to thrive
Current rapid changes in the geopolitical context have created new challenges for human trafficking prevention measures, said speakers at a seminar urging stakeholders to take a multilateral approach to overcome the crisis.
Climate change has been one of the major causes of human trafficking and irregular migration. The Covid-19 pandemic and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war have further complicated the issue, said experts at a seminar on "Promoting Multilateral Cooperation to Prevent Human Trafficking and Migrant Smuggling".
The Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the seminar on Wednesday at the BIISS auditorium.
"Both human trafficking and labour trafficking are crimes, but there is no law in Bangladesh regarding labour trafficking. That is why we are failing to cooperate with other countries to prevent labour trafficking," said Mahdy Hassan, head of the Human Trafficking and Immigration unit of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC).
Ambassador Kazi Imtiaz Hossain, chairman of BIISS said, there are countries in South Asia that are variously source, transit, and destination countries for human trafficking.
"There are socio-economic inequalities and intense internal migratory flows in this region. There are also many open and porous borders between some countries in this region," said Kazi Imtiaz Hossain.
He said growing economies combined with corruption, weak criminal justice systems, and unequal law enforcement capacities offer opportunities for organised crime to thrive.
BIISS Research Fellow Benuka Ferdousi said anywhere from 3,000 to 30,000 people were trafficked from Bangladesh, while 2.5 million were trafficked around the world in 2016, and in 2019, 24.9 million people were smuggled globally.
She said 51% of human trafficking cases in Bangladesh were caused by economic need, 29% were due to dysfunctional family circumstances, 13% were influenced by others, and 10% were irregular migrants.
"Human trafficking is on the rise due to the growing red light areas across the world, lucrative labour markets and tough immigration laws in destination countries," she added.
Attending the programme as chief guest, Charles Whiteley, European Union (EU) ambassador to Bangladesh, said the issue of refugees has become one of the hot, red button topics in Europe. Nowadays migrant smuggling has become profitable business and sexual exploitation continues to be the most commonly detected form of trafficking.
"The EU wants to cut the problem at its roots. To do that, a multilateral approach is needed. The Bangladesh government is doing its best and the EU has always remained by its side," he said.
BIISS Director General, Major General Mohammad Maksudur Rahman, said Bangladesh is aware of the increasing challenges of human trafficking.
"Realising the gravity of the issue, Bangladesh passed the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act 2012 and also became a party to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Migrant Workers and their Families, as well as adopted the Overseas Employment and Migrants Act in 2013."