First UA: 131/20 Index: ASA 13/3010/2020 Bangladesh

Date: 7 September 2020

Bangladesh authorities sent more than 300 returning migrants to jail between in phases between July and
September under section 54 of the Code of Criminal Procedure which allows the police to arrest someone on the
basis of having “reasonable suspicion” that they may be involved in an act of offence outside Bangladesh.
On 5 July 2020 Bangladesh’s police sent to jail 219 Bangladeshi workers who had returned from Kuwait, Qatar and
Bahrain since May. According to the police application made to a metropolitan magistrate court in Dhaka on 4 July,
the returnees – 141 workers from Kuwait, 39 from Bahrain and 39 from Qatar – were in jails of those countries for
committing “various offences”, which were not specified. The workers were deported to Bangladesh after the
authorities in those countries commuted their sentences.
One such case was that of Mohammad Shahin Alam, 25, whose visa expired three months after arriving in Bahrain
in 2016. However, he continued to work there as a pipefitter to pay back his father’s debts that he had incurred in
sending Mohammad Shahin Alam to Bahrain. In 2020, Shahin began exploring the possibility of renewing his visa,
in the hope of finding a better paying job. As a result, he was sent to jail for staying and working in the country
without a valid visa. After serving 21 days in jail in Bahrain, he returned to Bangladesh on 25 June. He called his
father on 5 July to say that he was being released from a quarantine facility. However, five minutes later, he again
called to say that there were a lot of policemen outside his premise. Approximately eight days later, he called his
father to tell him he had been sent to Kashimpur jail in Gazipur. Mohammad Shahin Alam’s father does not know
why his son is being kept in jail.
Bangladesh’s police told the metropolitan magistrate court that the 219 migrant workers had “tarnished the image
of Bangladesh” by engaging in criminal activities abroad and that they should be detained for as long as an
investigation continued against them to determine their offence. However, in so doing the police did not offer any
specific evidence and grounds for their arrest and continued detention in Bangladesh. The Dhaka court however,
granted the police request to keep the workers in jail.
Separately, on 1 September, Bangladeshi authorities sent to jail 81 Bangladeshi migrant workers who had returned
to the country from Vietnam on 18 August after they were exploited by recruitment brokers. They had each paid
between approximately USD $4700 and $5900 to brokers on the promise of factory jobs, said Md. Alamgir, one of
the returnees to a local newspaper. Instead they found themselves in temporary jobs that lasted less than one
month for some of the migrants with a payment of less than USD $83 per month.
Taijuddin, 35, was one of these workers who went to Vietnam on 25 December 2019 with a promise of a job at a
furniture factory and a salary of about USD $306 (BDT 26,000) per month. After spending months without enough
food and money and not able to send any remittance home, Taijuddin, returned to Bangladesh on 18 August.
Taijuddin’s wife quoted him saying “We have arrived, but they will keep us in quarantine for 14 days and then they
will let us go,”. However, instead of returning home, the authorities sent him to the Dhaka Central Jail in Keraniganj
on 1 September. Taijuddin’s wife, who now has her husband in jail for the foreseeable future, is in increasing debt,
as she struggles to pay both the living expenses for her family and her son’s school costs.
Many Bangladeshis become victims of human trafficking in the hope of finding a well-paying job abroad,
particularly in the Gulf countries. They are exploited by traffickers who promise them steady jobs and good money
only to be subsequently exploited by employers for less pay, more work or threatened with jail terms for illegal stays
[See: Amnesty International, COVID-19 makes Gulf countries’ abuse of migrant workers impossible to ignore, 30
April 2020].
Rights activists in Bangladesh have said that by arresting the workers, who have served their sentences in the
foreign land or been through traumatic experience after they were exploited by human traffickers, it is the
Bangladesh government itself which is tarnishing the image of the country.
You can also write in your own language.
Please check with the Amnesty office in your country if you wish to send appeals after the deadline.
NAME AND PRONOUN: [Mohammad Shahin Alam (he/him) and Taijuddin (he/him)

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