US ambassador summoned over sanctioning of RAB officials

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Foreign secretary expresses Bangladesh’s disappointment at US decision

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen summoned United States Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller on Saturday to convey Dhaka’s discontent with the designated sanctions imposed by Washington on seven present and former officials of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).

The US Department of Treasury and the Department of State on Friday slapped the sanction on the seven former and incumbent RAB officials and RAB itself as an entity, allegedly over serious human rights abuses.

Foreign Secretary Momen expressed Bangladesh’s disappointment at the fact that the decision was taken unilaterally by the US Administration without any prior consultation with the government of Bangladesh, says the Foreign Ministry.
He said the issues that were cited for imposing the designated sanctions remain under active discussions, including under the framework of the regular institutional dialogues between the two sides, and that yet, the US decision came without any prior intimation.
Masud regretted that the US decided to undermine an agency of the government that has been on the forefront of combating terrorism, drug trafficking and other heinous transnational crimes that were considered to be shared priorities with successive US administrations.

He said 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 the US Administration but also to a number of UN human rights mechanisms on multiple occasions.

Masud stated that the US decision appears to have been based more on unverified or unsubstantiated allegations of command responsibility than on facts involved in connection with certain specific incidents that had taken place at the local level.
He further regretted that the decision targeting the Bangladesh officials was made in tandem with those concerning certain countries that stand alleged to have committed serious international crimes, ie “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”, by the UN and other concerned international bodies.

The foreign secretary emphasized that the government of Bangladesh remains committed to upholding the rule of law and human rights, and maintains a “zero tolerance” approach to any wrongdoings or aberrations by its law enforcement agencies.

He stressed that all uniformed services in Bangladesh follow a set of legal and administrative procedures to address any allegation of wrongdoing against any of their members, and that RAB is no exception in this regard.
He underscored the need for pursuing the pathway of dialogue, engagement and collaboration, instead of resorting to “naming and shaming” that has proven to be a self-defeating exercise.

Ambassador Miller took note of the concerns raised by the government of Bangladesh, and assured of conveying the same to his capital.

He concurred that the excellent multifaceted relations between two countries could be further deepened through established consultation mechanisms and high-level visits.

Miller further expressed the willingness of the US Government to remain closely engaged with the government of Bangladesh in the coming days on issues of mutual interest.

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