The US State Department’s annual report on human trafficking, published on 25 June, states that the Bangladesh’s manpower exporters have close ties with the country’s parliamentarians and government officials. The report did not name any MP or government official. However, it appears that the statement has connection with the arrest and imprisonment of a Bangladeshi MP in Kuwait. This is detrimental to the image of Bangladesh.
Kazi Shahid Islam, an MP from Bangladesh’s Lakshmipur-2 constituency, has been arrested and tried in Kuwait not for his links with manpower exporters, but for his involvement in serious criminal offences of human trafficking and money laundering. The Kuwaiti government is taking legal action against him for violating the country’s laws. Kuwaiti government officials have also been accused of involvement in Shahid’s criminal activities and the Kuwaiti parliament has been embroiled in the controversy.
Kazi Shahid made Bangladesh a haven for his illegal activities. His firm has trafficked people from Bangladesh in the name of manpower export. These poor people have been cheated and trafficked illegally, lured by promises of employment abroad. Like human trafficking, money laundering is another serious international crime. Kazi Shahid has been involved in that crime for years. He transferred money not only from Kuwait but also from Bangladesh.
No action has been taken [against MP Shahid] other than the foreign minister’s remark, “the arrest of an MP abroad is a disgrace to the country”.
Kazi Shahid Islam, as a member of parliament, has also tarnished the image of the Jatiya Sangsad of Bangladesh by being arrested in Kuwait on charges of these two serious crimes. Not only that, he carries and uses dual passports. This time he went to Kuwait using a green passport, which he should not have as an MP. MPs get diplomatic passports and to give up their ordinary green passports. He got a diplomatic passport without submitting a green passport and used both passports at his convenience while he was an MP. This is unlawful. A state minister was sacked during the 1996-2001 Awami League government for using dual passports. The question is why this was not considered a crime in the case of Kazi Shahid Islam.
The illegal activities of these MPs are not only damaging the image of Bangladesh, but can also cause great damage national interests. Human trafficking is internationally recognised as a very serious crime. In particular, there is a risk of being deprived of access to US government assistance and easy access to loans from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund if the human trafficking index deteriorates. MP Shahid’s activities may bring such a risk forward.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Government of Bangladesh to take legal action against MP Shahid Islam on several grounds. But no action has been taken other than the foreign minister’s remark, “the arrest of an MP abroad is a disgrace to the country”. If no action is taken against him, the international community, including Kuwait, may have a negative perception of the Bangladesh government. It will seem that our government wants to avoid allegations of MP Shahid’s crimes. in our national interests too, in the interest of justice, we should investigate and take appropriate legal action against the MP Shahid.