The government decreased law enforcement efforts. Articles 163 and 164 of the criminal code criminalized all forms of labor trafficking and some forms of sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of eight to 25 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and, with respect to sex trafficking, commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes, such as rape. Inconsistent with international law, the law required a demonstration of force, fraud, or coercion to constitute a sex trafficking offense involving a 17-year old child, and therefore did not criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking. The government did not collect detailed data on trafficking, and the government only collected aggregate data on vulnerable persons and not trafficking-specific data. The government reported it investigated 13 potential trafficking cases—a significant decrease from 65 in 2018, 267 in 2017, and 176 in 2016. The government closed four cases for insufficient evidence while nine cases remained pending at the end of the reporting period. In addition, four case investigations from previous reporting periods remained ongoing. Local NGOs identified and referred one trafficking case to the government during the reporting period; however, the prosecutor general’s office (PGO) did not open an investigation. Subsequently, the government did not confirm any trafficking cases, a substantial decrease from five in 2018, nine in 2017, and 79 in 2016. Authorities did not initiate any trafficking indictments in 2019, compared with four in 2018. For the fourth consecutive year, the government did not obtain any convictions during the reporting period. In 2018, a district administrator was accused of raping a child sex trafficking victim and attempting to bribe her to not report the case; at the end of this reporting period the case was still with the PGO for review while the district administrator remained in his position. In a previous reporting period, the government reported referring a case of an immigration official who allegedly facilitated labor trafficking of Bangladeshi workers to the PGO; the government reported for the second consecutive year the case was ongoing.
The government included anti-trafficking curriculum, created and provided by a foreign government, in its judicial sector training. The Legal Training Center and the Office of the Prosecutor General also reported the inclusion of this curriculum in training for new judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, and for current members of the judiciary, and confirmed delivering the training to five prosecutors in the PGO and five investigators from the Central Cabinet of Organized Crime in the PGO during the reporting period. The National Police confirmed recruits received training on how to identify trafficking victims as part of their onboarding curriculum. The government did not report the number of officials trained on anti-trafficking during the reporting period; officials’ understanding of trafficking or the requirements of the law reportedly remained inadequate, hindering overall progress.