Rights groups seek ban on Bangladesh’s RAB force in UN peacekeeping missions

Twelve rights groups, including Amnesty International, had privately written to the United Nations (UN) two months ago seeking a ban on the deployment of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite paramilitary force, in UN peacekeeping missions

Jan 20, 2022
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Bangladesh’s RAB force in UN peacekeeping missions (Photo: HumanRightWatch)

Twelve rights groups, including Amnesty International, had privately written to the United Nations (UN) two months ago seeking a ban on the deployment of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite paramilitary force, in UN peacekeeping missions. Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday made the joint letter public on its website. 

The United Nations Department of Peace Operations should ban Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) from UN deployment, the joint letter asked in a letter to UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix. 

Formed as an elite paramilitary force in 2004, RAB has come under the radar of rights activists and groups for its abuse of power, and allegation of human rights violations, including abuse, torture and enforced disappearance. 

"If Secretary-General Guterres is serious about ending human rights abuses by UN peacekeepers, he will ensure that units with proven records of abuse like the Rapid Action Battalion are excluded from deployment," said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights said. 

"The evidence is clear; now it's time for the UN to draw a line," he added.

The letter, dated 8 November 2021, expressed “serious concern” that the letter and spirit of the 2012 United Nations Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel (the Human Rights Screening Policy) were not being sufficiently applied in relation to Bangladeshi nationals."

So far, the letter elicited no response from the UN, where Bangladesh remains one of the top troop contributors. In December last year, the Biden administration in the US also sanctioned seven RAB serving and retired officials after the intense lobbying from the human rights groups. 

On December 10, the US designated RAB as a "foreign entity that is responsible for or complicit in or has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse," under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act.

(SAM)

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