Sending workers to Malaysia: the United States closely monitors the problem of unions

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Priority must be given to the legitimate interests of Bangladeshi migrant workers and other stakeholders in Malaysia. File photo: star

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Priority must be given to the legitimate interests of Bangladeshi migrant workers and other stakeholders in Malaysia. File photo: star

The United States has closely followed the development centered on the involvement of a controversial union in recruiting labor from Bangladesh in Malaysia, a US official said in Dhaka.

“Yes, we’ve been following the developments over the past few months … by reading the news,” she said at a briefing at the American Center in the capital yesterday, ahead of the release of the State Department report. American on Trafficking in Persons (TIP). 2022 next week.

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The official said they were aware that an agreement was signed by Bangladesh and Malaysia for the recruitment of labor several months ago. She said she did not want to comment on the specific relationship between the two countries as it is a bilateral issue.

However, she said they recognize the vulnerabilities of countries, through which people can be trafficked, and this is not only relevant for Malaysia, but also for the Gulf and Europe.

The comments came in response to a question about whether the United States was observing or discussing the issue of a union of 25 recruitment agencies, which the Malaysian government pushed to recruit Bangladeshi workers.

The then Mahathir-led government froze the recruitment of labor from Bangladesh to Malaysia in September 2018, as a syndicate of 10 recruitment agencies sent workers to Malaysia charging up to Tk 4 lakh each. , even if the official cost was set to Tk. 39,000 in an agreement signed in 2016.

Recruitment anomalies have also led to forced labor and labor trafficking, as well as debt bondage, Mahathir said.

After more than three years, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the countries last December, but labor recruitment has yet to begin due to the syndication issue.

Bangladesh wants all eligible agencies to be allowed to recruit workers in Malaysia. However, the Malaysian government sent a list of 25 recruiting agents to Bangladesh. There are allegations that a certain Dato Amin, a Malaysian citizen born in Bangladesh, is behind the syndication. He is also believed to be behind the union of 10 agents during the 2016-18 period.

More than a week ago, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission raided the offices of Bestinet, an IT company owned by Amin, in Malaysia. The company provides IT support for the recruitment of migrants from Bangladesh.

Asked about the TIP report, the US official said she was not going to say which level Bangladesh belonged to in the report this year. But the country had been at Level 2 for two years. Prior to that, the country was on the Tier 2 Watch List for three consecutive years.

TIP has three levels – Level 1, Level 2, Level 2 Watchlist and Level 3, with Level 1 being the best category in terms of taking action against human trafficking and Level 3 being the worst.

Any country classified at level 3 exposes itself to sanctions on development aid.

Asked how the US government assesses the situation in Bangladesh, the official said that generally the US and Bangladesh have a good partnership in anti-trafficking cooperation. Measures include awareness raising, investigation and prosecution, and victim support.

TIP Report 2022 will be its 22nd edition and will cover 188 countries, including the United States. Trafficking means forgery, coercion and defrauding people to employ them or transfer them from one place to another for work or the sex trade. This can happen within a country or between countries.

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