DEFEXPO 2022 INDIA Ministry of Defence

 

Without concrete steps, sanctions on Bangladesh's elite force won’t be lifted

“There is no scope for repeal of sanctions against the Rapid Action Battalion without concrete action and accountability. We want to see a RAB that remains effective at combatting terrorism, but that does so while respecting basic human rights,” the US envoy said at a seminar organized by the Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies

Apr 25, 2022
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Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)

US sanctions on Bangladesh's elite paramilitary force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), will not be lifted unless the government takes concrete measures and ensures accountability, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas said, as Dhaka intensifies efforts to get sanctions lifted. Last year in December, the Biden administration had announced sanctions on seven of RAB's top serving and retired officials, citing rights abuses, in a move that came as a setback to the Sheikh Hasina government in Bangladesh.

“There is no scope for repeal of sanctions against the Rapid Action Battalion without concrete action and accountability. We want to see a RAB that remains effective at combatting terrorism, but that does so while respecting basic human rights,” the US envoy said at a seminar organized by the Bangladesh Institute of International Strategic Studies.

Speaking at the seminar, titled “Bangladesh and the United States Relations: Moving towards Enhanced Cooperation and Partnership” in Dhaka, the US envoy said that the RAB sanctions didn’t mean the two countries cannot enhance security cooperation.

“We will continue to work with Bangladesh to combat transnational crime and terrorism, enhance border security, and prevent violent extremism. We continue our support to Counterterrorism and Transnational Crime police, the Anti-Terrorism Unit, and the specialized units of the Metropolitan Police in Chattogram, Sylhet, and Rajshahi,” he was quoted as saying by Prathmalo.

Although Dhaka objected to the US’ move, it didn’t let the issue hijack the overall cooperation between the two countries. Its approach remains consultative, with sustained efforts to remove misgivings between the two countries on the issue and make changes to laws if required. Speaking at the same event, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen termed the US an important partner in the country’s development journey.

On the upcoming general elections in Bangladesh, scheduled for the end of 2023, the US envoy said Washington will not take any sides during the election. “We simply hope for a democratic process that allows the Bangladeshi people to freely decide who will run their country.”

Stating that the US and Bangladesh can work together to promote democracy and protect human rights, the ambassador said he is pleased that the Momen stated that Bangladesh will welcome international observers during the next election.

Importantly, Haas also welcomed the government’s commitment to reform the country’s Digital Security Act to prevent further abuses of the law.

(SAM)

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