– Imtiaz Ahmad & Sabbir Hossain Rhythm
National Youth Consultation for the World Humanitarian Summit held on 19th June 2015 at BishwoShahitya Kendra with the title ‘The Agony of the Migrant Workers in South Asia: Legal Challenges and Ways Forward for Bangladesh’.
As it was youth consultation, maximum participants and panelists were young. They discussed about the recent humanitarian crisis as several mass graves of illegal migrants were discovered and several boats were floating on the sea with the risk of life.
At first the organizers and the panelists were introduced. Then Dr. Ridwanul Hoque, associate professor at Dhaka University, presented hiskey-note paper.
He wrote a huge report on migrant workers’ rights which was published last year by the National Human Rights Commission. He prepared a paper for the program titled ‘Migration crisis of today: Legal challenges and ways forward for Bangladesh’. The National Youth Consultation was supposed to include whole South Asia. But he thought it would be a huge topic and cannot be delivered within limited time. His main argument was that migrant crisis is a very complex issue. It is multifaceted as it has economic-social, political and, of course, legal underpinning.
Dr. Hoque tried briefly to figure out the history of the crisis highlighting the causes of the same. Collective failure to create enough employment opportunities and natural calamities in the country push our people to go abroad to seek their livelihood, He opined.
His research pointed out how less severe ‘human smuggling’ has recently turned into human trafficking.
Though we have a good legal apparatus in Bangladesh to stop modern day slavery, so far there is no conviction of criminals under the law. Quite paradoxically, another anti-human rights means i.e. extra-judicial killing was accepted in recent times by the law-enforcement agency to stop human traffickers and smugglers.
Dr. Hoque told that the solution of migration crisis is not legal alone. This social problem should be dealt collectively. Mr. Shariful Hasan a senior reporter from Prothom Alo expressed his doubt, while he was sharing his experiences, whether law means anything. He informed that there were more than 1500 cases relating to trafficking and smuggling. But no one has been convicted yet. The 2012 Act provides that there shall have a tribunal to adjudicate offences under the Act. But there is no such tribunal, informed Mr Hasan. The Nari-O-ShishuNirajatan Daman Tribunal which is already overburdened has to adjudicate the human trafficking offences.
Another participant commented that the crisis indicates the absence of proper national developmental policy. He asked whether we want as a nation to remain as the supplier of workers to the overseas economic activities or we want to build up national economy robustly. Some of the panelist accepted this point. A female participant commented on the push and pull factor of the migrant crisis. After that, SM Masum Billah Assistant Professor of Law at Jagannath University concluded the first session with his concluding remarks.
After the first session, the panelists left the Youth Consultation. Then commenced the second session which was short. The participants who were divided into few groups were given few minutes to discuss within the group and write their thoughts on broadsheet.
The writers as the editors of Bangladesh Law Digest were participants at the summit.