Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Bangladesh has decided to form seven special courts to try human traffickers who can be given a maximum of death penalty.

The step was taken after Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina promised stern action against slave traders as well as illegal migrants “tainting the country’s image”, reports PTIs.

“We have decided to constitute the special courts to be called Human Trafficking Deterrence Tribunal,” Law Minister Anisul Huq said.

Earlier, Home Ministry’s statement said that a crackdown was launched in southern coastlines to track down the traffickers.

The special courts will effectively enforce the Human Trafficking Deterrence and Suppression Act which suggests the maximum death penalty for the human smugglers, he said.

Huq hinted that the courts would be set up away from southeastern Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong Hill Tracts to “ensure justice for the victims” as the traffickers having their stronghold in those areas could influence the witnesses.

“The victims might not get justice if the trials are held in the districts where the crime has been committed… (however) I won’t like to explain it’s details now,” he said.

The Law Ministry said they launched the process of setting up the special courts as 557 cases on charges of human trafficking were pending with different courts while chargesheets were submitted in 257 cases.

Bangladesh authorities earlier launched a crackdown on human traffickers while several of them were reportedly killed in shootouts with police mostly Cox’s Bazar district on the coastline of Bay of Bengal, the route of illegal migration.

Meanwhile, officials today said that elite Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and police in Cox’s Bazar overnight arrested five human traffickers.

RAB’s commander in Cox’s Bazar Major Ziaur Rahman said a unit of the crime busting force arrested two after raiding a village last night, and seized nine mobile phones which were being used to carry out their illegal trade.

Three others were detained from Teknaf area today adjacent to Myanmar’s Rakhine state, the home to Muslim Rohingya who are denied of their citizenship so far.

But the decision came as Hasina earlier this week ordered tougher punitive actions against human traffickers and slammed people who were trying to illegally migrate elsewhere exposing themselves to uncertainty, affecting Bangladesh’s image.

The Premier had called the illegal migrants “mentally sick fortune-seekers”, adding that they should be punished along with the middlemen who used to arrange the travel.