Bangladesh’s former consul general in New York Monirul Islam and his wife will have to face trial in a US court for allegedly forcing an ex-servant to work under “slavery-like conditions.”
The Manhattan Federal Court turned down a plea by Islam and his wife Fahima Tahsina Prova to let them off the case on Tuesday (US local time).
Masud Parvez Rana, a Bangladesh native, sued the couple on Mar 21 last year accusing them of forcing him to work 16 hours a day without pay, keeping him in an inhumane condition and serve as cook at Bangladesh Consulate events whenever Monirul Islam wished.
Diplomat Islam and his family, however, left for Morocco on Mar 23 being appointed as the Bangladesh ambassador to the country.
In their plea, the couple said they can’t be implicated in such cases as they were diplomats.
The court observed that the matter of abusing a house-staff is not covered by consular functions.
It said that the Bangladesh Consul General in New York has not been accused —rather Monirul Islam and his wife Fahima Tahsina Prova have been accused as individuals.
The ex-house servant Rana claimed that the couple promised to pay him $3,000 per month and provide “good working conditions”, if he agreed to work as their servant at their Manhattan apartment.
If he complained, Islam threatened to “kill” him, the law suit says.
Rana — who is seeking an unspecified amount in monetary compensation — worked for the family from September 2012 until March 2014.
“After making such promises and bringing Mr Rana to the United States, he was subjected to forced labour in slavery-like conditions, he was forbidden to leave their residence, threatened with beatings and murder or arrest by police. He was physically assaulted on at least two occasions and his passport was kept by Islam and all compensation to Mr Rana for a period of over eighteen months was withheld,” the suit says.
Islam, however, refuted the abuse charges then and said Rana was trying to secure permanent residency in the United States (US) by bringing the charges.
Speaking to bdnews24.com on March last year, he said he was leaving for Morocco by the first week of April.
“I told Rana that he can go to Morocco with me if he wants to or else he will have to go back to Bangladesh.”
According to the consul general, Rana replied that he won’t leave and that his sole purpose of working as Islam’s house staff was to gain a permanent US residency.
Islam, now the Bangladesh envoy in Morocco, was, however, not available to comment on the latest developments of the lawsuit.
Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade faced a similar case in the US with her housemaid Sangeeta Richards levelling much the same kind of charges levelled against Islam by Rana.