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9,370 expats held in foreign prisons, most in Saudi: Hasan

Foreign Minister Dr. Hasan Mahmud on Monday informed the parliament that a total of 9,370 Bangladeshi expatriates are currently detained in prisons of different countries.

He provided the information while responding to a question from Mohammad Huchamuddin Chowdhury, an independent member, at Jatiya Sangsad with Speaker Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury in the chair.

The foreign minister said the highest number of 5,746 Bangladeshis are currently detained in Saudi Arabia, while 508 are in Turkey.

Among other Bangladeshis, 81 in Italy, 385 in South Africa, 415 in Qatar, 19 in Spain, 122 in Hong Kong, 66 in Singapore, 16 in Brunei, 184 in China (Beijing), 404 in Abu Dhabi, 49 in Indonesia, 219 in Malaysia, 28 in Lebanon, 414 in Greece, 217 in Iraq, 358 in Myanmar, 100 in Jordan, one in Portugal, one in Algeria, two in Japan, three in Sri Lanka, four in Thailand, six in South Korea, six in Egypt, seven in China (Kunming), and nine in Libya remain detained.

Hasan said, “A total of 1,226 people were repatriated from Libya, while 51 were repatriated from France and other European countries between July 2023 and February 2024. Additionally, approximately 1,950 Bangladeshis were brought back from prisons in India, Myanmar, and various Middle Eastern countries.”

In a scripted answer, Hasan stated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ministry of Expatriates Welfare, Bangladeshi embassies abroad, and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are instrumental in facilitating the release of detained Bangladeshi expatriates. Furthermore, liaison is maintained with relevant police stations and Public Prosecution Offices to ensure swift and fair investigations into complaints against detained workers.

The government also engages in communication and lobbying at the highest levels of concerned countries for special and general amnesty for laborers or expatriate workers held in prisons.