Human trafficking flourishes in Bangladesh
Human trafficking in Bangladesh is rising, and fewer people are being convicted for the crime, according to UCA News. Despite hundreds of investigations, the U.S. State Department reported Bangladesh convicted only one trafficker in 2017.
While poverty and ignorance put many people at risk for trafficking, experts said poor law enforcement and impunity were also to blame. Bangladeshi and Rohingya refugees are both at risk, according to anti-trafficking activist Abu Morshed Chowdhury.
“Police probes are often slow and flawed, largely because police officials are directly and indirectly complicit in the crime,” Bangladeshi Supreme Court lawyer Subroto Chowdhury told UCA News. “In many cases, court judges don’t order a reinvestigation once a flawed report is submitted. Suspects can secure bail easily and evade punishment.”
The U.S. State Department, which listed Bangladesh on its Tier 2 Watch List for human trafficking in 2018, confirmed that “official complicity in trafficking crimes remained a serious problem and the government did not report taking action against some credible allegations.” It cited examples of officials taking bribes, traffickers with political connections, and pressures put on victims to take payoffs in exchange for not reporting their exploitation. —Julia A. Seymour
Denmark’s burqa ban begins
Denmark last week began to implement its ban on full Islamic face coverings, and has already penalized at least one person. The Danish Parliament in May approved a measure making it illegal for women to wear burqas, which cover the entire face and body, or niqabs, veils that cover the face.
According to the law, first-time offenders face a fine of about $155, while repeat offenders could pay up to $1,550 or spend six months in jail. The law stipulates that police officers will ask women either to remove their veils or leave public places. A 28-year-old woman on Friday chose the latter. Police Officer David Borchersen said the woman received a fine and opted to leave a shopping center in Horsholm after another woman forcibly tried to take off her niqab.
Rights groups have called the ban discriminatory and said it will further fuel anti-migration rhetoric.
“Whilst some specific restrictions on the wearing of full face veils for the purposes of public safety may be legitimate, the blanket ban is neither necessary nor proportionate and violates women’s rights to freedom of expression and religion,” said Fotis Filippou, Amnesty International’s deputy director for Europe. —O.O.
Georgia says yes to marijuana
The Constitutional Court in the country of Georgia scrapped the penalty for using marijuana, making it the first former Soviet republic to legalize consumption of the drug.
The court ruled July 30 that personal consumption of marijuana does not pose a public threat. “In particular, it can only harm the user’s health, making him/herself responsible for the outcome,” the ruling stated. The court maintained that cultivating and selling marijuana still remain criminal offenses. —O.O.