Various rights bodies have urged the government to release 255 returnee migrant workers who are in jail on charges of "suspicious activities".
Migrant Forum in Asia, Lawyers Beyond Borders, and the International Trade Union Confederation-Bangladesh Council (ITUC-BC) raised the demands on Saturday.
According to media reports, most of these deported Bangladeshi migrant workers were previously arrested in Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain for committing administrative infractions (such as overstay after visa or work permit expiry) or petty narcotics charges, consumption of alcohol, and other petty crimes such as robbing a tire or selling cell phone talk time.
Thereafter, they all obtained state pardon in the host countries after serving at least two-thirds of their sentences.
Citing the media reports, the organisations said the workers had completed their quarantine for Covid-19 after their deportation and are now in Kashimpur jail, allegedly for violation of section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
"If these 255 returnee migrant workers are being detained solely for "suspicious activities" during quarantine and "for tarnishing the image of the country" for their activities abroad, and for which reason they were charged, imprisoned, and subsequently pardoned by those states, we would like to appeal to the government of Bangladesh to immediately release them from imprisonment since they have not committed any new crimes," read the joint statement of Migrant Forum in Asia and Lawyers Beyond Borders.
As the situation of the migrant community becomes aggravated during the Covid-19 pandemic, it must be recognised there should be no space for depriving these individuals of their liberty, the two organisations said.
This should not happen particularly when they have been placed in situations of exacerbated vulnerability, forced out of their jobs, and forced to leave their income on which their families depend, they added.
"We are in a time when the human rights and dignity of persons must be at the forefront," they added.
It is also being reported in the media that there are instances of the families being harassed by the investigating officers and even being subjected to extortion.
The families are in all sorts of uncertainty and expressing deep concern in this regard, ITUC-BC statement reads.