Human trafficking tribunals soon

The government is going to set up special tribunals in eight divisional cities to speed up trial of human trafficking crimes. Sources said the Ministry of Public Administration has already approved the proposal of the Law Ministry regarding the creation of 48 posts, including judges, for the formation of tribunals.

A senior official of the ministry said after receiving the approval of the Ministry of Finance and the Supreme Court, the Law Ministry will complete the rest of the work of setting up tribunals. After the formation of these tribunals, more than 4,000 human trafficking cases will be on track for quick settlement.

Law Minister Anisul Haque said, "Tribunals will be formed soon to settle the cases under the Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act." The trials of human trafficking cases are being prolonged as the Tribunal of Women and Child Abuse is already under a lot of pressure due to the high number of cases. According to the latest statistics of the Supreme Court, there are 4,601 human trafficking cases pending in the country. Out of these, 197 cases have been pending for more than 5 years. Most of the cases, i.e, 2,064 cases are in Dhaka division.

An official of the Law Ministry said that the cases currently under consideration in the Tribunal of Women and Child Abuse will be transferred if the Human Trafficking Prevention Tribunal is formed. This will speed up the trials in both the tribunals. Ministry sources said the posts proposed in the Law Ministry for the formation of the new eight tribunals are - eight District and Sessions Judge posts, eight typist-cum-computer operators, eight bench assistants, eight drivers and eight posts of MLSS.

These tribunals are being constituted in accordance with Article 21 of the 'Prevention and Suppression of Human Trafficking Act, 2002'. Section 21 (1) of the Act states that for the purpose of speedy trial of offenses under this Act, the government may constitute a human trafficking crime tribunal in any district under the rank of Sessions Judge or Additional Sessions Judge.

Article 24 (1) of the Act states that the tribunal shall complete the trial within one eight hundred and eighty business days of any crime committed under this Act. Article 24 (2) states that failure to complete a trial within that timeframe, despite the provisions of subsection (1), will not cancel the trial, but the tribunal must submit a report giving the reason for not being able to complete the trial during that period within ten business days. The Act calls for death penalty, life imprisonment and minimum seven years imprisonment for human trafficking and a fine of Tk 5 lakh.

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