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Cablegate: Bangladesh Foreign Ministry Takes Measures To

VZCZCXRO0107
RR RUEHCI RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKA #1384/01 2380107
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 260107Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4890
INFO RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9255
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8069
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 1803
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0122
RUEHEK/AMEMBASSY BISHKEK 0043
RUEHAH/AMEMBASSY ASHGABAT 0156
RUEHTA/AMEMBASSY ALMATY 0076
RUEHNT/AMEMBASSY TASHKENT 0161
RUEHDBU/AMEMBASSY DUSHANBE
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0895
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001384

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SENSITIVE
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G/TIP FOR SNEUMANN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM ELAB KCRM BG
SUBJECT: BANGLADESH FOREIGN MINISTRY TAKES MEASURES TO
COMBAT TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS

1. (SBU) SUMMARY. Officials of the Bangladesh Ministry of
Foreign Affairs recently attended a briefing and training on
the role of the ministry in combating human trafficking on
August 18. In addition, the Ministry issued a circular with
instructions for its missions abroad on how to combat
trafficking in persons. END SUMMARY.

ANTI-TRAFFICKING ROUNDTABLE FOR FOREIGN MINISTRY PERSONNEL
============================================= =============

2. (SBU) As part of the Bangladesh government's
anti-trafficking strategy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
held an all-day roundtable regarding the role of its
diplomats in combating trafficking in persons. All
director-level officials of the Ministry attended the
conference, which was also attended by Embassy and USAID
representatives. Shahidul Haque, the International
Organization for Migration (IOM) country representative,
moderated the program.

3. (SBU) The roundtable covered several areas of
anti-trafficking policy. IOM provided an overview of
irregular migration in the South Asian region, followed by a
presentation by Law Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman on regional
and legal instruments to address the problem. POLOFF gave a
presentation on U.S. policy to combat trafficking. Much of
the discussion focused on ways to combat irregular labor
migration.

NEW ANTI-TRAFFICKING CIRCULAR ISSUED
====================================

4. (SBU) The participants also discussed the new Foreign
Ministry circular, "Guidelines for Bangladesh Missions Abroad
to Combat Trafficking in Persons." The policy was released
to Bangladesh's foreign missions on August 5. While the
policy guidelines cover trafficking as a whole, there is
particular focus on outlining the responsibilities of
consular officers in handling cases of labor migration
abuses. The guidelines call for renewed vigilance in
attesting to the authenticity of employment offers and
documentation, responsiveness to Bangladeshi workers who find
themselves in abusive situations abroad, and better
coordinating with other government offices, including the
Expatriate Welfare Ministry, in cracking down on companies
that violate their employment agreements.

FRANK DEBATE ON LABOR ABUSE RESPONSE
====================================

5. (SBU) The Foreign Ministry directors engaged in a
surprisingly frank debate with the speakers, including with
Acting Foreign Secretary Touhid Hossain and Additional Home
Secretary Mohammad Mohsin. Several directors expressed

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frustration with the lack of resources at the disposal of
embassies and called on senior officials to back up the
circular with more funding and personnel. Among other
issues, they cited a lack of staff, particularly in countries
that have high numbers of Bangladesh laborers. They also
pointed out that while on paper the embassies have
"contingency funds" that can be used to lend workers money to
return to Bangladesh, in reality these funds do not exist.

6. (SBU) Even with resources, efforts to protect laborers
often fail, according to several attendees. One diplomat who
worked in the Bangladesh Embassy in Seoul described an
experience from a few years ago. A laborer sent to work in
Korea through a recruitment agency owned by a member of the
Bangladesh parliament complained to the Embassy that the
recruitment company had misled him about the terms of his
employment. The Embassy pursued a claim through the
Expatriate Welfare Ministry, but somehow the parliament
member traced the complaint back to the worker in Korea. The
worker was told his family would "disappear" if he did not
withdraw his complaint against the recruitment company. The
complaint was promptly withdrawn. (NOTE: After the state of
emergency, the parliament member in question was jailed on
various corruption charges, and according to the Additional

DHAKA 00001384 002 OF 002


Home Secretary, his recruitment company has been closed down.)

COMMENT: A PRODUCTIVE WEEK ON THE ANTI-TRAFFICKING FRONT
============================================= ===========

7. (SBU) COMMENT. These activities were very positive steps,
given the increasing pressure on Bangladesh's diplomats to
respond more effectively to trafficking cases abroad. They
are an indication of the Bangladesh authorities' commitment
to extend the fight against trafficking beyond the Home
Ministry to other parts of the government. They also signal
the government's willingness to expand the scope of
anti-trafficking measures firmly into the area of labor
migration abuses. END COMMENT.
PASI

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