The labour recruiting agencies have called for an end to their "harassment" by law enforcement agencies using the human trafficking prevention law.
The Manpower Recruiting Agencies Oikko Parishad, a platform of recruiters, submitted a memorandum to Director General of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) Md Shahidul Alam to meet their demand on Wednesday following an earlier protest meeting at the Institution of Diploma Engineers, Bangladesh.
They demanded the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare provide written instructions on an urgent basis to stop the arrests by law enforcement forces, which they termed as harassment as the workers were sent after getting their BMET-issued smart cards.
"On 21/10/2021, in an inter-ministerial meeting chaired by the home minister, in the presence of senior officials including the minister of Foreign Affairs, Expatriate Welfare and Foreign Employment, it was decided that complaints to law enforcement agencies will be forwarded to the BMET and the BMET will verify whether the matter is human trafficking," read the memorandum.
"It is a very sad and painful reality that RAB has been continuously raiding the offices of legitimate recruiting agencies and arresting the owners and staff under the Human Trafficking Act in total disregard of the decision of the inter-ministerial meeting. Currently, agency owners are living in a state of fear…due to these raids and numerous agency owners have been forced to stop sending workers abroad," it added.
The recruiters said that they want exemplary punishment of the actual human traffickers.
"It is not human trafficking to send workers abroad after accepting smart cards issued by BMET. If workers have any grievances, they can seek redress under the migration law," M Tipu Sultan, proprietor of Rajdhani Trade International, and also the president of Recruiting Agencies Oikko Parishad, told The Business Standard.
"Even after sending workers legally, recruiting agency owners are arrested like human traffickers and thus their lifetime achievements are tarnished."
The Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agency has around 1,500 members.