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Cablegate: Embassy Dhaka Response to 2009 Tip Interim Assessment

VZCZCXRO6256
RR RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHCI RUEHDBU RUEHLH RUEHNEH RUEHPW
DE RUEHKA #1087/01 3370945
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 030945Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9734
INFO RUEAWJB/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHDC
RUEHC/DEPT OF LABOR WASHDC
RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHDC
RHMFIUU/HOMELAND SECURITY CENTER WASHINGTON DC
RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 1007
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 0146
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0068
RUEHDO/AMEMBASSY DOHA 0252
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0380
RUEHRH/AMEMBASSY RIYADH 0433
RUEHKU/AMEMBASSY KUWAIT 0291
RUEHMK/AMEMBASSY MANAMA 0230
RUEHMS/AMEMBASSY MUSCAT 0016
RUEHTRO/AMEMBASSY TRIPOLI
RUEHYN/AMEMBASSY SANAA 0107
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0365
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE 3100
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 0890
RUEHJI/AMCONSUL JEDDAH 0110
RHHMUNA/USCINCPAC HONOLULU HI

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DHAKA 001087

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR: USAID, G/TIP, G, INL, DRL, IWI, PRM, SCA/RA, SCA/INSB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KTIP ASEC ELAB KCRM KFRD KWMN PGOV PHUM PREF SMIG
BG
SUBJECT: EMBASSY DHAKA RESPONSE TO 2009 TIP INTERIM ASSESSMENT

REF: A) 09 SECSTATE 114330, B) 09 DHAKA 177

DHAKA 00001087 001.2 OF 003


SUMMARY
-------

1. This cable serves as a response to an interim assessment of
progress made by the Government of Bangladesh (GOB) from March to
November 2009 to combat trafficking. Paragraph four begins text.
Embassy point of contact is David Arulanantham, Political Officer,
telephone: 880-2-885-5500 x2148, IVG post-code: 583, fax number:
880-2-882-3744, e-mail: arulananthamdp@state.gov.

2. From January 2007-January 2009 a military backed caretaker
government, composed of a Chief Adviser and a Council of Advisers
governed Bangladesh under a state of emergency. In the absence of an
elected legislature to pass laws, the President was empowered to
promulgate ordinances, many of which later lapsed unless passed by
the new parliament within 30 days of the first session. After
successful national elections on December 29, 2008, the country
swore in a new Prime Minister on January 6, 2009 and Parliament
re-convened on January 25, 2009. As the first elected government in
over two years, following a period of rule by the caretaker regime,
the new government has faced a gargantuan task in its first few
months. This change in administration and the return to democratic
rule has slowed down everything, including the bureaucracy, as the
new government focuses its priorities.

3. Please note that different Government Ministries keep their own
sets of data on the trafficking issue and there is sometimes a
discrepancy between the two.

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS TO REPORTING QUESTIONS
--------------------------------------------

4. Please summarize the progress or lack thereof, the Government of
Bangladesh has made in the following areas.

-- A. Integrating anti-labor trafficking objectives into national
anti-trafficking policies and programs:

The GOB has made modest progress in integrating anti-labor
trafficking objectives into national anti-trafficking policies and
programs and recognizes the relevance of labor migration. Embassy
Dhaka's contacts in the Home and Ministry of Expatriates Welfare and
Overseas Employment (MEWOE) are gradually expanding attitudes on
trafficking to include labor migration of men as well as trafficking
in women and children. There continues to be no statistical data to
quantify labor migration abuses or evaluate the magnitude of labor
migration problems vis-`-vis sex trafficking and other forms of
forced labor. At present there are four laws governing overseas
labor migration: the Immigration Ordinance (1982), Immigration Rules
(2002), the Overseas Employment Policy (2006) and the Recruiting
Agent License and Conduct Rules (2002). A new committee headed by
the Joint Secretary for MEWOE has begun examining these laws with a
view towards modifying or drafting new legislation in order to meet
the challenges posed by labor trafficking. Separately, the
Government of Bangladesh (GOB) has entered into discussions with the
leading association of recruiting agencies (BAIRA) to reiterate its
concern about the actions of some of its members. BAIRA, in turn,
has begun drafting a code of conduct for its members.

Bangladesh has typically defined trafficking as forced child labor
and sex trafficking of women and children, a definition which has
deep historical and cultural roots. Nevertheless, the GOB is slowly
expanding its understanding of the problem of labor trafficking.
There are discussions within the Home Ministry to define the problem
of trafficking more broadly and to include it in the national plan

DHAKA 00001087 002.2 OF 003


of action to combat trafficking.

-- B. Significantly increasing criminal prosecutions and punishments
for all forms of labor trafficking including those involving
fraudulent labor recruitment and forced child labor:

There is as yet no law specifically criminalizing labor trafficking
and forced child labor. In the absence of such legislation, the
government has prosecuted those accused of trafficking women and
children under the Repression of Women and Children Prevention Act
of 2000 (Amended in 2003) and imposed administrative penalties on
fraudulent labor recruiters. They have also prosecuted labor
traffickers through other sections of the penal code. Because of
this, there are no reliable statistics about the extent of the
problem or the government's efforts to combat it. According to the
Home Ministry, in the past year 11 cases of labor trafficking were
filed, with one conviction. The accused in this case was sentenced
to life in prison. The labor wings of the Bangladesh Embassy in
Jordan and Saudi Arabia have also filed cases with the labor and
shahriah (Islamic religious) courts in these countries. NGOs
complain that the GOB has made strides in prosecuting traffickers of
women and children but that they have been slower to act against
traffickers of male migrant laborers.

MEWOE also reported receiving 855 complaints against recruiters in
2009 through its formal complaints mechanism. Of this total, 325
were settled through negotiation with the MEWOE, 175 were sent to
the MEWOE for a decision and 355 remain under investigation. Over
34 million taka ($508,000) in fines was collected from these
recruiters, and five licenses were cancelled. In addition, criminal
cases have been filed against six agencies.

-- C. Continuing to investigate and prosecute government officials
who may be suspected of complicity in trafficking:

The GOB continues to investigate and prosecute government officials
who may be suspected of complicity in trafficking. According to the
Home Ministry, in the past year there authorities have lodged five
cases against government officials; all are currently in process.
Three more cases are under trial. One case resulted in an acquittal
and another is in the pre-trial phase.

-- D. Greatly improving oversight of Bangladesh's 700 international
recruiting agencies to ensure they are not promoting practices that
contribute to labor trafficking:

The GOB has taken some measures to more effectively oversee the 815
recruiting agencies that are in the country to ensure they are not
promoting practices that contribute to labor trafficking. NGOs
remain dissatisfied with the GOB's efforts and argue that the GOB
needs to update the Immigration Ordinance in order to make progress
in this area. MEWOE has entered into discussions with BAIRA to find
ways in which the cost of migration can be reduced. The Home
Ministry also reported there are 44 cases pending against recruiting
agencies, 31 of which are now under trial.

-- E. Providing protection services for adult male trafficking
victims and victims of forced labor:

The GOB has yet to take significant action to provide protection
services for male victims of trafficking. According to the Home
Ministry, the government is considering the idea of opening up
shelter homes for men.

-- F. Any other significant developments:

The GOB has adopted a fairly comprehensive labor migration policy
called the Bangladesh Overseas Employment Policy (BOEP). NGOs

DHAKA 00001087 003.2 OF 003


recognize that this is an important first step, but argue this
policy needs to be reviewed, updated and implemented.

DEAN

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