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4 Bangladeshis trafficked to Scotland, kept as 'slaves'

  • Published at 06:34 am February 22nd, 2017
  • Last updated at 11:26 am February 22nd, 2017
4 Bangladeshis trafficked to Scotland, kept as 'slaves'
A Bangladeshi national, who along with three others was trafficked to Scotland by a hotel owner, claims that he was treated like a “servant” while working at the hotel. Abdul Azad was a chef in his family's business in Dhaka. In 2008, he was attracted by the advert in a local newspaper for chef work in the UK. The job offer included an annual salary of around $22,500, as well as paid holidays, free food and accommodation, according to court documents. In a recent interview with CNN, Azad said the work was very different from what had been promised by the hotel owner, Shamsul Arefin. Azad was told that he would be paid only $125 per week at the now-closed hotel. Apart from his chef work, Azad had to clean rooms, work in the garden, clear snow, and provide labour for tradesmen. The hotel owner forced them to work up to 22 hours a day. The hotel owner was sentenced to three years' imprisonment in July 2015 after being convicted of trafficking the four Bangladeshi workers. “[Arefin] had the sponsorship license, he could do anything and he used to always show us this. If you don't do this, I can cancel [the sponsorship] and you have to move back and you may be illegal and the police will arrest you,” Azad told CNN. “So we said nothing, because he was the sponsor, just like a master. He was the master and we were his servants.” After more than a year of labour abuse, Azad and three of the other trafficked victims sought help at local charity Lochaber Hope, which put them in touch with a migrant rights NGO called Migrant Help. Jim Laird, who worked for Migrant Help at that time, told CNN: “The men first came to my attention late in 2009. They were in a terrible state, they had clearly been brought over for labour exploitation. “Their working conditions were very poor. They had to pay a lot of money to come here to the owner of the hotel, they were not paid properly, they were working really long hours, sometimes up to 22 hours a day.” The trafficked Bangladeshi nationals say they were able to stay in the UK on short-term temporary work visas after agreeing to testify as witnesses in the criminal investigation into Arefin but they now face deportation back to Bangladesh. Azad said that his life would be at risk if he returned home. “You can ask me the question, why do you not leave this country and go back to your home country? Yeah I can go back, anytime I can go back, and in maybe one or two months you can find my dead body,” he said. Azad and the three other victims are currently negotiating their appeal to remain in the UK and to bring their families over to them. Regarding their appeal, the UK Home Office said that they would not comment on individual cases. In a statement, it said: “Anyone who feels that they would be at threat by returning to their home country is able to apply for asylum. Each claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.”
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