Bangkok, Thailand - 17 May 2023 - Organized criminal groups often exploit people's desire to migrate and the lack of legal pathways. They frequently use diverse modes of transportation from the origin, transit and destination, including air, sea and land. These routes expose migrants to mistreatment, abuse, and sexual violence, with women and girls fleeing violence being particularly vulnerable. Bangladeshi nationals represent one of the largest migrant populations in Malaysia.
In order to promote cooperation among criminal justice authorities from Bangladesh and Malaysia, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) organized the third bilateral meeting in Bangkok from 9 to 10 May 2023, as a direct follow-up of its prior meetings in September and December 2022. The meeting was facilitated jointly by UNODC’s Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants – Bangladesh (GLO.ACT- Bangladesh), and Regional Office for South East Asia and the Pacific (UNODC ROSEAP), as a part of UNODC’s commitment to promoting judicial cooperation in combatting trafficking in persons.
Many Bangladeshis migrate voluntarily for work. However, it is well documented that migrants are exploited by employers, employment agents and sub-agents as well as labour brokers through the imposition of onerous migration fees.
The Royal Malaysia Police and Bangladesh Police and the Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh represented criminal justice authorities from the respective countries. The aim of the meeting was to share information on current trends and patterns of human trafficking, strengthen communication channels, and foster a common understanding of organized criminal groups' modus operandi. The meeting also explored opportunities for bilateral and multilateral cooperation in detecting, investigating, and prosecuting transnational organized crime. The meeting was attended by thirteen criminal justice practitioners, six from the Bangladesh Police – CID and the Police Headquarter, and the and the Ministry of Home Affairs of Bangladesh - and seven from the Royal Malaysia Police CID Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling of Migrants Division (D3).
The meeting started with welcome remarks from the head of the delegation from each country. A short recap session was followed by a presentation and discussion session on the UNODC’s global trafficking in persons report. After that, both delegation teams shared new and emerging trends of trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants focusing on the routes, manifestations, threats and dangers post-COVID-19 pandemic. Before closing the first day meeting, an open discussion on the possible ways to enhance bilateral and international cooperation was held.
The second day of the meeting started with presentations from UNODC and two delegation teams on the trafficking for forced criminality with a focus on online scams and fraud. The participants had an elaborate discussion and exchange session after it. The meeting was closed with participants’ recommendations and the way forward.
The Global Action against Trafficking in Persons and the Smuggling of Migrants - Bangladesh (GLO.ACT Bangladesh is a joint initiative by the European Union (EU) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) being implemented in partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), led by the Government of Bangladesh. GLO.ACT Bangladesh builds on a global community of practice set in motion in GLO.ACT 2015-2019 in 13 partner countries across Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America.
Through targeted, innovative, and demand-driven interventions, the GLO.ACT aims to support the Government of Bangladesh and civil society organizations to more effectively fight the crimes of human trafficking and migrant smuggling across the country. The project works on developing evidence-based information on trafficking and smuggling patterns and trends, legislative review and harmonization, capability development of criminal justice actors, and international cooperation. The project also provides direct assistance to victims of human trafficking and migrants in vulnerable situations through the strengthening of identification, referral, and protection mechanisms. The project fully commits to mainstreaming Human Rights and Gender Equality considerations across all its activities.
The European Union funds the project.