Past Events 2017

Workshop on ‘Decentralization of Migration Services: Delegation of Authority from BMET to DEMO’
Jointly Organized by: RMMRU & BMET
Venue: BMET Conference Room
Date: July 31, 2017

Assess the decentralization of BMET services to 26 DEMOs and perceive the DEMO officials opinions with regard to the effectiveness of mediation/arbitration about fraudulence in the migration process.

A workshop was organized namely ‘Decentralization of Migration Services: Delegation of Authority from BMET to DEMO’ on July 31, 2017 jointly by RMMRU and BMET. Respected personnel like Mr. Jabed Ahmed, Additional Secretary, MoEWOE and from BMET honorable Mr. Selim Reza, DG, Mr. Tazul Islam, Additional General (Employment), Mr. Abdul Hye Additional General (Training) added more value to the workshop by their presence. Mr. Md. Shawkat Ali Waresi, Deputy Team Leader, PROKAS was the Special Guest of the programme. Apart from them some other respected directors and officials from BMET also enriched the event. Moreover, DEMO officials from 26 decentralized districts, RMMRU Migration Mediation Committee (RMMC) members, and 13 migrant workers from Tangail district attended the workshop.

Dr. C R Abrar, Executive Director, RMMRU moderated the workshop and highlighted that the core source of providing services to the migrant workers is DEMO and we should work more to make it stronger, and Dr. Ali Ashraf, Lead Researcher of DEMO Study from RMMRU have shared the study outline and preliminary findings through a power point presentation.

Mr. Selim Reza, DG, BMET was the key speaker and stated DR. Abrar and Dr. Siddique from RMMRU have a high level of convening power on migration issues...they are close to our heart. The negative mind-set of government officers about CSOs has been shifting positively and we are now working with CSOs in partnership, thanks to RMMRU and PROKAS for partnering with us”. Moreover, Mr. Reza ensured all services including the arbitration process will be decentralized and transferred to the DEMO offices and stated they are working to bring labor migration services to the door-step.

Mr. Jabed Ahmed, Additional Secretary, MoEWOE raised the issue that the conception of general people regarding BMET is not positive and they are not satisfied with the services it provides. In this regard, he said, “we need to work on capacity building, consider the general mass’s concern and hire talented people”.
Mr. Abdul Hye, Additional General (Training), BMET said: “if it can be informed to the migrant workers that no extra fee will be charged for the finger print and online registration service then they will not hesitate to utilize this service”.

Mr. Tazul Islam Additional General (Employment), BMET, in order to reduce the hassle and better time management in migration process, directed the DEMO officials that they can introduce a token system, which will be provided to each migrant and they will stand in the line in the expected time as per the token number.
Mr. Nurul Islam, Director, Training, and Planning, BMET suggested that the complexities of migration process will be reduced if the bank’s working hour will start a bit earlier or online payment system can be introduced.

Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU after the whole discussion concluded the workshop with the expectation that more delegation of power from BMET to DEMO will happen and sufficient resources will be provided to the DEMOs so that they can operate properly.

Major Issues Identified: The main issues which were highlighted during the whole session were: there is a need of sufficient logistics support, the DEMOs should develop their infrastructure, the digitalization process should be accelerated in every district and the influence of middlemen should be reduced etc.

Recommendations: One of the suggestions came was whenever any complaint is filed along with dalal the recruiting agency should also held responsible. Furthermore, all the DEMOs should be brought under digitalization process so that they can operate effectively, and the mediation or arbitration system should be more flexible and less complicated so that people can get the actual benefit.

Capacity Building Training of RMMRC Members in Madaripur Legal Aid Association(MLAA)
Date: 22 July to 23 July 2017
Venue: Madaripur Legal Aid Association
Supported By: PROKAS and RMMRU
Organised By: Madaripur Legal Aid Association

Community-based mediation can increase rural people's access to justice as it can solve local disputes in a faster and cheaper way than the court. RMMRU is working with this objective with PROKAS, British Council to develop a formal way of mediation in local level with the help of FLM project. For this purposes, RMMRU planned to organize training for capacity building of RMMRU Migration Mediation Committee (RMMRC) members with assistance of MLAA to make the regulation of mediation more affective in grassroots level. To serve this goal the committee members attend a residential training for two days in Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA) on 22-23 July 2017 to learn more about mediation for ensuring proper application of mediation in grassroots levels to provide the access of justice of the affected migrants of fraudulence.

Agenda of the Training
 The main agenda of the training was capacity building of RMMRU Migration Mediation Committee.
 Learning of mediation process practically according to guidelines in proper way to provide justice to affected migrants

The participants of the training were 26 members of RMMC from two working areas of Tangail as well RMMRU head Office. Among them 9 members were women and rest were male members. Director Programme of RMMRU, Ms Marina Sultana attended the training for 1st day to settle the training group and observe the training. There were 7 resource persons who conducted the whole research. They were Advocate Khan Mohammad Shahid, Advocate Munir Hasan, Advocate Md .Ibrahim Mia, Advocate Subbrata Das, Advocate Moshiur Rahman, Advocate Shahbuddin Ahmed, Advocate Nasima Khatun was conducted the training to give proper information to RMMC to understand the mediation properly.

The main outcome of that Training were
• Capacity building of RMMC about mediation
• Learning to ensure effective mediation process in local level through practical knowledge of mediation organized by MLAA
• Learning the ways to offer free legal assistance to the poor in the formal local courts.
• knowledge about mediation related forms and documents, qualities of mediator, steps of mediation etc
• Learning to aware about the mediation system under Migration Act 2013.
• Facilitating the mediation in gender friendly, proper legal knowledge, and ensuring justice.
• Innovative and moderate approach to alternative dispute resolution.

Consultation on Fraudulence in Processing Migration
Organized by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 19 July 2017
Venue: Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, The University of Dhaka

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organized a consultation on fraudulence in processing migration on 19th July 2017 at Nawab Ali Chowdhury Senate Bhaban, The University of Dhaka. In order to focus on the fraudulence related to the migration process, RMMRU under the Prokas Prgramme of the British council has been conducting a research on the roles of dalals in the migration process. A field work was held in 9 villages of Paikora union and 11 wards of Elenga municipality. 300 households from each village/ward constituted the enumeration area and from the initial survey, RMMRU has found plenty of instances of fraud cases in the process of migration. The key objective of this consultation was to share the primary results of the survey and inform the people about the level of fraudulence in migration.

Mr. Jabed Ahmed, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment (MoEWOE) chaired the consultation and Retd. Justice Mr. Nizamul Huq Nasim attended the programme as the Chief Guest. Mr. Benjir Ahmed, President, BAIRA and Mr. Tanvir Mahmud, IBP Manager, PROKAS, British Council, were the special guests of the session. Among discussants, Mr. K.M. Ali Reza, Deputy Chief, MoEWOE, Ms. Ferdousi Akhter, Deputy Secretary, MoEWOE, Mr. Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman Joint Secretary General, BAIRA, Dr. Mohammad Jalal Uddin Sikder, Assistant Professor, ULAB were present at the programme and shared their views along with opinions on this matter.

Moreover, various news and television media personnel, human rights activists, migrant survivors, victims of fraudulence and middlemen also attended the programme and put forward their opinions in this regard.
Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU, as the key note speaker, presented the initial findings of the survey in brief. Dr. Siddiqui discussed that 46.5% households of Paikora Union have at least 1 migrant and in Elenga one-third of the households were households of migrants. In three villages of Paikora union, non-migrant households were lower in number than migrant households. That leads to a belief that migration happens more often from rural areas compared to urban areas.

Moreover, the percentage of migration fraud is 51% among which 19% people faced fraudulence during the migration process. The other 32% people faced fraudulence and various degrading inhuman behavior while staying abroad. Due to this level of fraudulence, on one side people are facing financial loss and on the other side, the flow of remittance is decreasing in our country. In such circumstance, only the middlemen or dalas cannot be blamed, the government officials and recruiting agencies should also undertake necessary steps because through mediation the victims are getting only financial remedy but the middlemen are not served with proper punishments.
Mr. Jabed Ahmed, Additional Secretary, MoEWOE gave an opinion that skilled workers should be put into practice or utilized and in this regard, BAIRA can provide assistance so that they don't become the burden for us due to an unplanned migration. He also stated the importance of gathering data and information by RMMRU which will immensely help the process of making policies.

Justice Mohammad Nizamul Huq Nasim said that it is necessary to take proper steps to check deceitful activities from the migration process.
Mr. K.M Ali Reza, Deputy Chief, MoEWOE shared that the migrant workers often face difficulties abroad due to reasons such as workers going on tourists or student visas and not being able to avail the protection of Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013. Among other reasons a FnF syndrome was also identified which suggested that people trust their own relatives or familiar persons than agencies as a result are subjected to more fraudulent activities. He also focused on the fact that the new online system of recruiting is sure to reduce this FnF syndrome and for better functioning of the process the sub-agents need to be regularized.

Mr. Benjir Ahmed, President, BAIRA thinks that the institutions related to migration system, including BAIRA need to be more transparent and having an online system has helped to achieve that target a lot, as the aspirant migrants can now communicate directly rather than contacting the sub agents

Mr. Tanvir Mahmud, (IBP) Manager, PROKAS, British Council, believes that 60-70% of problems can be solved at the local level if recognition and a way of regulating the dalals were taken in hand. He also emphasized on giving a positive recognition to the recruiting agents who provide good services in the migration process. He suggested that a soft approach shall be taken rather than talking about tough laws and punishments.

Some other valuable opinions of the guests, discussants, attendees that were suggested in the consultation were:

- The weaknesses need to be identified as well as the situations that help the middleman to utilize against the migrants.
- In order for the report to be effective it has to be able to identify socio-economic and demographic data of the migrants, causes to migrate and identification of the middleman, the reasons to be fraudulent in the destination countries and the flaws in the process.
- The report shall also come up with recommendations defining the responsibilities of the State, Govt., Other agencies and moreover, responsibilities of the interested migrants.

Inception Meeting: Dialogue on Developing Work Strategy for the Application of Overseas Employment and Migration Act-2013
Organized by: Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 27 April 2017, Dhaka
Venue: Conference Room, DG, BMET, Dhaka

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organized a dialogue on Developing Work Strategy for the Application of the Overseas Employment and Migration Act-2013 on 27 April 2017 at the Conference Room, BMET, Dhaka. Mr. Abdul Hai, acting DG, Mr. Dr. Nurul Islam Director, of BMET, Ms. Ferdousi Akhter Deputy Secretary, MoEWOE, Mr. Kazi Abul Kalam, NCTB enriched the dialogue and prescribed their opinion about mitigation the fraudulence in migration. Mr. Tanvir Mahmud, IBP Manager, British Council, Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman and Ali Haider Chowdhury, BAIRA, representative of national and international organizations were also present and provided their valuable opinion.

In the Programme panel discussant were Mr.Tazul Islam, Director (Employment), Advocate Barkat Ali, Supreme Court, BLAST, Advocate Md.Abu Raihan, Tangail Bar Council, Advocate Mr, Khan Mohammad Shahid, Madaripur Legal Aid, Mr.Reza Uddin, Chairman, Bangra Union, Tangail address the ways o the mediation process and its importance to migration sector. Focus area of the Programme were• Prosecution of Overseas Employment and Migration Law, 2013

• Rules of Law and middleman issue
• Online Complain System
• Arbitration Practices at community level
• Grievance Management System

A major achievement of the programme was to re-open the Online Complain Mechanism and handover it by Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair RMMRU Mr. Tanvir Mahmud, Head of Programmes, PROKAS, British Council and to Acting DG, Mr. Abdul Hai, and BMET. He thanked RMMRU and British Council for their support to reopen the digital complains system which will be helpful for migrants and their families to reduce hassles in migration services.

About this complain Ms. Ferdousi Akhtar, Deputy Secretary, Expatriates' Welfare Ministry stated that”

I am giving thanks for the starting of such challenging job. For their insightful step, there is a place build for complaining. As the Act has enacted in 2013, still the rules have not formed, in this situation the immigrants can complain at least at one place. It feels nice that for this affected migrants will get the chance of recovering.

Another vital task of the programme was to present the survey result of 3 unions of Tangail before going to provide legal support through the mediation process to mitigate the risk of fraudulence in migration system. Marina Sultana, Director, Programme shared a short survey finding through a PowerPoint presentation to understand the fraudulence situation and justice required by migrant survivors at the project location. In this survey it is seen that 87% people said they were deceived by a middleman, 10% said through relatives, friends and 3% said fraud by recruiting agency.

Ms. Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui focused on the rules of law and middleman issues, mediation practices at community and the mitigation strategy under the law.

“We will try to mediate complains of affected migrants through mediation at the local level who doesn’t have enough documents to get justice. As we see that local middleman is responsible in this sector so they have to be identified. They are linked to some recruiting agencies but local people don’t know about the agency. So middlemen get accused of fraudulence. She suggested to include a clause in this Act where it is stated that the middlemen has to register with the recruiting agency and they would have an Identification Card and an institutional structure of Salish or mediation to ensure justice for affected migrants at grassroots level”

Some other suggestions also identified from the opinion of an honorable participant.There are

• Need to aware the Police administration about Migration Act 2013 so that they can support to migrants to file suit under this Act.
• The government has to follow some mechanism of arbitration and mediation as best practices and can apply for migrants services at local level. The people who are engaged with the mediation process, they need to get trained to get the best result out of the mediation system.
• Awareness should be made in order to knowing the differences between the travel agency, recruiting agency, Haj agency and massive awareness campaigning through electronic and print media
• TTC trainer have to provide information to potential migrants about this law when they provide pre-dicision and pre-diputure training
• In online Complain Machanism, only passport and smart card number submit option should have to introduce instead of scan copy of documents as community people don’t have enough facilities of using tools. Government should monitor this online complain system regularly.

Inception Meeting: Dialogue on Developing Work Strategy for the Application of Overseas Employment and Migration Act-2013
Organized by: Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 25 April 2017, Tangail
Venue: Conference Room, DC Office, Tangail

Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organized a dialogue on Developing Work Strategy for the Application of the Overseas Employment and Migration Act-2013 on 25 April 2017 at the Conference Room, DC office, Tangail under the Fairer Labour Migration Project supported by PROKAS, British Council. Mr. Md. Mahbub Hossain, DC, Tangail was the Chief Guest of the programme. Additional SP, Mr. Gobinda Chandra Paul, Mr. Abu Naser Uddin, UNO Kalihati, G.R. Sarwar, Assitant Commissioner Probashi Kollayan Desk, Md. Shahriar Rahman, Assistant Commissioner, Mustanzida parveen, Senior Assistant Commissioner, Mr, Kartik Debnath, AD, DEMO, Advocate Abdur Razzak, President, Tangail Bar Somiti, Advocate Abu Raihan, Tangail Bar Council. Ms. Rawshan Ara Lily, Executive Director, RPDO and other members of Local NGOS, affected migrants and their families were present in the programme involving women and socially excluded groups. They gave their opinion in protection of migrant’s rights and prosecution of Migration Act 2013. One of the major objectives of the programme was to introduce the project activities and expected support from respective officials in reducing the vulnerability of fraudulence in migration and protecting the rights of migrants. The dialogue also focused on the local mediation issues, its application in migration fraudulence to support the deceived migrants.

The dialogue programme moderated by Dr. Tasneem Siddiqui focused on Fraudulence by middleman in migration process, mediation practices for the benefit of affected migrants and the mitigation strategy under the law. Mr Mahbub Hossain, DC Tangail promised to support to mitigate the risk of fraudulence in migration. RMMRU shared a survey finding to understand the fraudulence situation and justice required by migrant survivors at project location. The report also stated the deceived migrants opinion how he/she wanted to mitigate the issues.
In this survey it is reflected that 87% of migrants were deceived by middleman, 10% through relatives, friends and 3% said fraud by recruiting agency. The report also stated the deceived migrants opinion how he/she wanted to mitigate the issues. Honorable Panel Discussant and other participants discussed about the legal services including the focusing areas:
• System of Mediation Practices under Migration Act 2013
• Nature of fraudulence cases reported to DEMO
• Experience of solving fraudulence cases through local government
• System of arbitration practices in BMET
• Experience of handling cases of fraudulence in migration in court
• Expectation of affected migrants in mediation through Grievance Management System (GMS).
• Experience sharing on local level mediation practices
• Prosecution of Overseas Employment and Migration Act-2013

Launching ceremony of "Untold Stories of Migrants: Dreams and Realities"
Organized by: Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU)
Date: 24 January 2017
Venue: Senate Bhaban, University of Dhaka
Supported by: PROKAS Programme, British Council
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) launched the "Untold Stories of Migrants: Dreams and Realities", a book capturing migrants' voice. The programme was held on 24 January 2017 at the Senate Bhaban of the University of Dhaka, Dhaka.Mr. Mohammed Shahriar Alam, M.P., the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, Government of Bangladesh graced the occasion as the Chief Guest. Dr. Justice Syed Refaat Ahmed, Judge, Supreme Court of Bangladesh was the Guest of Honour. Professor Perween Hasan, Vice-Chancellor, Central Women's University; Professor Fakrul Alam, Department of English, University of Dhaka; Mr. Md. Selim Reza, Additional Secretary and Director General, Bureau of Manpower Employment and Training (BMET), and Mr. Joel Harding, Governance Team Leader, DFID, British High Commission, Dhaka, Bangladesh offered their reflections on the book as Special Guests. Professor Sumaiya Khair of Department of Law, University of Dhaka, presided over the session while Ms. Munmun Rahman read out passages from the book.After the introduction by the Chair, the participants viewed the photos of migrants that were exhibited. After the session resumed the editor of the volume Professor Tasneem Siddiqui, Founding Chair, RMMRU, introduced the contents highlighting negative and positive experiences of 150 migrants as narrated in the book. Their stories reiterate that migration is an extremely complex phenomenon, and that there is no single narrative of migrants. The stories have been collected by RMMRU over a period of 20 years.

The next section of the programme involved reading selected sections of the book. In one narrative a woman working in Kuwait learned how to care for her invalid employer, was treated well and now owns a tailoring shop; another woman who went to the UAE, prospered, and now wants to help “hapless widows”; another woman who went abroad, learned Hindi, married off her sisters and felt proud that she could provide for the family as the eldest daughter; and some other tales of success and failure.

In offering her thoughts Professor Perween Hasan observed that the stories were humane and touching. She was amazed to learn how little were the needs of the migrants and wondered why adequate support could not be provided to them. Professor Fakrul Alam stated that although Indian writers have been publishing on experiences of Indian diaspora for a long time, some winning prestigious awards, there was a palpable absence of stories of Bangladeshi migrants. This book is the first publication in that regard. He said the stories captured in the book have literary value. He recommended that other works like this should mix longer narratives on migrants’ life experiences with the shorter narratives present in the book, including those of Bangladeshi diaspora. Mr. Selim Reza felt that the stories have immense value for policy makers. Mr. Harding mentioned about the need for ‘collective action’ and ‘keeping the momentum’ alive in order to solve the problems of migrants. Justice Refaat Ahmed termed the stories as invaluable documentation. He said he would treat the volume as ‘case law’.

The Chief Guest State Minister Alam congratulated RMMRU and the editor for undertaking such important task. He commented that “it aptly captured the great achievements of our migrants and at the same time the pains and agonies they and their families endure… Some of the statements of the migrants reflect their true perceptions about migration and their analysis in loss and gain by economic as well as social indicators”. He said the book should be the first volume of a series of many. The Chief Guest reiterated that the Government is trying its best to streamline labour migration from Bangladesh by negotiating with host countries to make life better for migrants and looking for new labour markets. The State Minister further mentioned that the Government has recently enacted the ‘Overseas Employment and Migrants Act 2013’, and is also working hard to reduce transaction costs for sending remittances. He informed that recent bilateral negotiations will create opportunity for some 500,000-700,000 Bangladeshi migrants to be employed this year in Malaysia. The Government will be able to cut off the intermediaries (middlemen) by introducing an online visa system. He stated that the migrants should not change jobs without authorization. He also stated that over 100,000 Bangladeshi migrants are currently working illegally in Malaysia who will get temporary 2 year work passes as part of a deal between the two countries. These migrants will be able to return to Malaysia, legally, for more work once they have returned home too. The State Minister further observed that it is foolish to pay BDT 500,000 to a middleman to migrate. He also reassured that the Government is “keeping a close eye on violations of migrants’ rights in Oman and Qatar”, he said.

All the speakers acknowledged the role of migration in reducing poverty. They felt that the book is an invaluable collection to inform readers about the diverse experiences that migrants face. It will also be an important source for the policy makers to gain insights to develop practical policies. Among others, 150 academicians, researchers, government officials, members of civil society and migrants attended the ceremony. It got a huge coverage in electronic and print media. Below please find the media links: