Section 23


flag Bangladesh

Coercive, unfair or deceptive recruitment Criminal liability Debt bondage

Section 23 provides that recruitment agents will be liable for charging additional fees to the prescribed amounts in exchange for overseas recruitment. Non-licensees are also punishable under this provision, for demanding or receiving any money from workers in exchange for foreign employent services. The penalty prescribed for a violation of this section is up to five years’ imprisonment, or a fine, or both.


While the Bangladeshi government has introduced a fixed maximum recruitment and migration charge, in practice  information on the maximum charge has not been disseminated among citizens and potential migrants and, according to the ILO, very few agencies follow this upper limit. Recruitment agencies charge exorbitant fees, and the issue is exacerbated by the fact that there is a very limited understanding among potential migrant workers regarding the nature of jobs, contracts, wages, and working conditions. In some cases, foreign recruitment agencies hire non-registered recruiters (dalals) to circumvent the law that limits the maximum fees that agencies can charge. The ILO points to a lack of effective oversight and enforcement of the law, as the key reason why there seems to be a universal disregard for the upper limit on the cost of migration. As a consequence, Bangladeshi migrants pay some of the highest recruitment fees in the region – in 2013 the average cost per person of migration for work abroad was 4.5 times higher than the GDP per capita. Many migrants sell all of their assets and/or become indebted in order to pay for these fees, rendering them particularly vulnerable to human trafficking.

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Law / 24 March 1982 / Bangladesh / Emigration Ordinance 1982

The Emigration Ordinance of 1982 criminalises a number of practices related to the emigration of workers, including engaging in contract substitution, making an agreement binding another person to emigrate, deceptive recruitment for the purpose of work abroad, or charging excessive recruitment fees.