Dhaka, (11 December) : The US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen today to convey Dhaka’s discontent over the designated sanctions imposed yesterday by the US Departments of Treasury and of State on some of the present and former officials of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB).
Foreign Secretary Momen expressed Bangladesh’s disappointment that the decision was taken unilaterally by the US Administration without any prior consultation with the Government of Bangladesh. He flagged that the issues that were cited for imposing the designated sanctions remained 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.
The Foreign Secretary regretted that the US decided to undermine an agency of the government that had 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.
The Foreign Secretary 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.
Ambassador Momen stated that the US decision appeared to have been based more on unverified or unsubstantiated allegations of command responsibility than on the facts involved in connection with certain specific incidents that had taken place at the local level.
The Foreign Secretary 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, i.e. ‘text book example of ethnic cleansing’, by the UN and other concerned international bodies.
The Foreign Secretary emphasized 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.
Foreign Secretary Momen stressed that all uniformed services in Bangladesh followed a set of legal and administrative procedures to address any allegation of wrongdoing against any of their members, and that RAB was no exception in this regard. He flagged that human rights violations and abuses were reported to be committed by wayward elements within the law enforcement agencies in many countries, including in the US, but that would not justify singling out the high officials of any law enforcing agency for targeted sanctions.
Foreign Secretary Momen 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.
He highlighted that the observance of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two friendly countries next year should open up further avenues to enhance the breadth and dimensions of the existing partnership.
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.
Ambassador 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.