Rights defenders on paper, traffickers in reality

A syndicate has been smuggling people from Bangladesh to nations such as Italy, France, and America under the pretense that they are employees of a non-governmental organisation.

As employees of the non-governmental organisation known as the "Protection for Legal and Human Rights Foundation," they used to request authorisation from the UN headquarters to attend conferences.

The syndicate member would apply for a visa at the American embassy after receiving permission in writing from the UN headquarters to attend the conference.

However, their true intention was to remain illegally in the host countries after entering with the conference's consent. Additionally, the gang used to charge  Tk 10 to Tk 15 lakh from their "customers" for the same arrangement.

The Cyber and Special Crime Division of the police's Detective Branch came up with the findings following the arrest of five members of the syndicate from different areas of the capital on Sunday.


To carry out their illegal activities, they enticed unsuspecting individuals who visited their office in Purana Paltan with promises of a better life abroad.

"The syndicate has been trafficking people since 2019," Junaed Alam Sharker, additional deputy commissioner of DB police, told The Daily Star yesterday.

The arrestees are Mohiuddin Jewel, 42, Ujjal Hossain alias Murad, 26, Anamul Hasan, 46, Shahadad, 30, and Hadidul Mobin, 35.

Jewel used to identify himself as chairman of the NGO  and Uzzal as executive director. They claimed to work towards safeguarding human rights and promoting social justice. To carry out their illegal activities, they enticed unsuspecting individuals who visited their office in Purana Paltan with promises of a better life abroad.

According to Junaed, the NGO recently applied for authorisation to attend a meeting that would take place at the UN headquarters from April 17 to April 28 and May 4, and obtained a document to that effect.

Three individuals -- Anamul, Hadidul, and Shahadad -- went to the US embassy for a visa appointment on April 26 using the document, according to a first information report submitted to the Gulshan Police Station by the US Embassy's assistant regional security officer Michael Lee.

However, during the interview with the embassy, the visa applicants failed to describe what they did for the NGO.

The Bangladesh NGO Affairs Bureau was immediately alerted  by the embassy, and no such NGO could be found on the list of registered NGOs.

According to the FIR, even the NGO claimed to have a location in New York, but no such location was discovered.

ADC Junaed said they are now investigating how many people were sent to Europe or America in this way. In primary interrogation, the arrestees confessed to sending at least three people to these countries but there could be more, he said.  A person sent by the syndicate was deported back from Dubai for suspicious movement, he added.

Earlier on April 9, detectives arrested three members of another syndicate trafficking people abroad in the same way. "We are suspecting that there might be some connection between these two syndicates," he added.

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