In six Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian countries, at least 21 Bangladeshis are facing death sentence and 31 undergoing trial for murder.
The cases involve 43 murders, including those of 28 Bangladeshis, over trading of visas and involvement in “immoral” activities, according to reports sent by Bangladesh missions abroad.
Under the Middle Eastern nations’ strict Islamic Sharia laws, death penalty is imposed for murder.
A convict, however, can escape death only if the victim’s family pardons him.
“Execution of Bangladeshis abroad hurts the image of the country and can affect its overseas employment sector,” said Dr Zafar Ahmed Khan, secretary of the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry.
Besides, it is the state’s responsibility to ensure legal support to its expatriate citizens, he pointed out.
Considering its damaging effects on the country’s labour market, the government is trying to arrange compromises between the families of the victims and the convicted, said officials at the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET).
Mohsin Chowdhury, director (welfare) of BMET, said many workers do not even know the laws of the foreign countries they work in. “We are now briefing job seekers about foreign laws before they fly off abroad.”
Contacted, Prof Imtiaz Ahmed of the international relations department at Dhaka University, said though arranging clemency for the convicts is the immediate task now, the government must be cautious about ensuring that no criminal goes abroad with a job.
There are allegations of serious irregularities in the visa-related issues of the migrating workers, he maintained. “If that is so, the government has to deal with it strictly.”
The DU teacher stressed signing extradition treaties with the labour-importing countries to make way for trying the accused at home.
The execution of eight Bangladeshis in Saudi Arabia in October last year sparked criticism at home and abroad. Many said the government had made no sincere efforts to save its citizens from being executed for killing an Egyptian.
Expatriate Bangladeshis send home $12 billion a year, around 13 percent of the country’s GDP, according to Bangladesh Bank data.
CASES BY COUNTRY: UAE
In the United Arab Emirates, five are convicted in three cases and 25 are undergoing trial.
The government’s initial efforts for arranging compromises for two convicts — Harunur Rashid and Shahabuddin of Chittagong — have failed.
The Bangladesh mission in Dubai has sought a month’s time from a Dubai court to arrange pardons.
There are five convicts and three accused in this Middle East country.
A Pakistani victim’s family has agreed to show mercy to Akhtar Hossain of Chittagong in exchange for 4 lakh Riyal (Tk 88 lakh). The Saudi government has agreed to pay the money for Akhtar as he is poor, BMET officials said.
The seven convicts in three cases are Alim of Jamalpur, Tabibur Biswas of Magura, Makbul of Brahmanbaria, Rinu Mia of Brahmanbaria, Iqbal Hossain and Ridoy of Munshiganj, and Ramzan of Comilla.
A process is on for arranging pardons for them.
A court has rejected the appeal of convict Russel, son of Mizanur Rahman of Uttara in the capital. The government is trying to arrange mercy for him.
Though Kamrul Hasan of Tangail has been convicted of killing an Indonesian woman, he has denied seeking mercy, claiming that he is innocent. He has requested a reopening of the trial in the Supreme Court.
A court has convicted Shamim Reza of Pabna and Masud Rana (address could not be known). They have appealed against their convictions.