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Dhaka seeks removal of US sanctions

Momen writes to Blinken

Published : 02 Jan 2022 10:26 PM | Updated : 03 Jan 2022 03:29 PM

The government has called upon the US administration to waive sanctions on the elite police force Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and some of its current and former senior officials.

Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen said he wrote a letter to his US counterpart Antony J. Blinken on a number of issues including the sanctions on RAB, and its officials.

In the letter, Momen highlighted the role of RAB in counter-terrorism and counter-narcotics activities and requested Blinken to reconsider the sanctions.

“We have so many scopes to discuss bilateral issues under different platforms with the United States. So this decision (sanctions) is unexpected,” the foreign minister said while responding to a question from reporters after a function in Sylhet.

“RAB is a credible institution. Due to this institution, terrorism, drugs and human trafficking have been declined. So this decision seemed strange to us,” he said.

“This type of decision makes us laugh. It (ban against RAB) was not right. There is an opportunity to verify the matter. We wrote that again in the letter. We are vocal about human rights. We will not compromise on this.”

Last month, the United States imposed sanctions on Benzir Ahmed, the current Inspector General of the Bangladesh Police and former Director General of Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and six other individuals on the occasion of International Human Rights Day.

They were announced as part of a raft of new rights-abuse sanctions on senior officials and entities in eight countries, with targets ranging from a Chinese firm specializing in facial recognition technology to a giant cartoon studio in North Korea. The measure was partly supported by the UK and Canada, although not in the case of the Bangladeshi officials or RAB.

A sharp reaction has been expressed by the foreign ministry of Bangladesh in Dhaka against the sudden and designated sanctions against some officials of the country.

The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned to convey Dhaka’s ‘discontent’ over the designated sanctions imposed by the US Departments of Treasury.

 Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen had regretted that the allegations made against RAB over certain specific incidents had been explained, along with information on the corresponding justice and accountability measures undertaken, to not just to the US Administration but also to a number of UN human rights mechanisms on multiple occasions.

“We expect more solid fact-based mature steps from a progressive country like the USA,” he had said on summoning the US ambassador.

 Foreign Minister Momen had also said that the government of Bangladesh remained committed to upholding the rule of law and human rights, and maintained a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to any wrongdoings or aberrations by its law enforcement agencies.

  In his letter, Dr Momen wished Secretary Blinken and his family a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year 2022.

Over the years, Dr Momen said, RAB has emerged as the most efficient law enforcement agency of the Government that has been at the forefront of combating terrorism, drug trafficking, human trafficking and other transnational crimes. RAB's crucial role in quelling crimes has generated much confidence among the citizens.

 He mentioned that Bangladesh remains convinced that the US would continue to be a trusted and contributing partner in our journey towards emerging as a knowledge-based, tech-savvy and developed nation.

 The Foreign Minister also thanked Secretary Blinken for his telephone call on 15 December 2021, just before the Victory Day.

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