Bangladesh joins the global fight against forced labour

February 22, 2022

Bangladesh becomes the 57th country in the world to ratify the ILO Protocol on Forced Labour and reaffirms its commitment to put an end to modern slavery.

Photo: World’s largest mangrove forest, Sundarbans, Bangladesh (©Amio James Ascension)

On 20 January 2022, Bangladesh ratified the 2014 ILO Forced Labour Protocol, the fourth country in Asia & the Pacific following Thailand, New Zealand and Sri Lanka. By doing so, the country committed to take effective measures to prevent forced labour, to protect victims and ensure their access to justice and remedies.

This is a major step towards the eradication of forced labour and human trafficking in the country. It follows a series of measures including the adoption, in 2012, of the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act, and in 2017 of three rules strengthening its implementation. The Act provides for penal sanctions against perpetrators as well as measures for the protection and rehabilitation of victims, including access to compensation and legal and psychological counselling. In addition, the country has adopted a second national action plan for combatting trafficking in persons for the period 2018-2022 and put in place a victim support center.

This ratification comes at a time when workers face an increased risk of falling into forced labour. Indeed, the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economic crisis it prompted, affected the livelihoods of millions of vulnerable workers around the world. This is why recovery efforts must address forced labour risks by safeguarding all fundamentals principles and rights at work – i.e. the elimination of forced labour, of child labour, of discrimination in employment and occupation, and the promotion of freedom of association and the right to collective bargaining.