Government Policy

Dhaka renews call to Washington to lift Rab sanctions

Bangladesh has urged the United States to consider a temporary waiver for Rab as an institution as sanctions on the elite force might undermine Dhaka’s efforts to combat terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crime.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen raised the issue of sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) during his meeting with US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman at the State Department on Thursday.

They talked about the pending legal procedure of delisting of the organization and individuals as well as remedial measures that have been undertaken by the government of Bangladesh.

In response to queries from the US side, Masud elaborated on the context of the enactment of the Digital Security Act (DSA) to combat cybercrimes including those aimed at undermining religious harmony and victimizing women and children.

He informed that the government is working with the EU to reassess the law and identify possible loopholes.

On labour issue, in response of US queries, he explained that the government has all intentions to improve the labour situation as per the roadmaps undertaken with the ILO and the EU, and proposed that the US can also join.

The FS emphasized that not everything can be implemented overnight, but gradual improvement is ongoing, giving example of recent ratifications of Bangladesh of relevant ILO conventions on Forced and Child labour.

Deputy Secretary Sherman appreciated Bangladesh Government’s willingness to address these issues, while also stressing upon early implementation of the reform process specially regarding trade union rights in private sectors.

She also discussed on the democratic process in Bangladesh and on the possibility of Bangladesh’s participation in the next Democracy Summit, according to a message received here from Washington.

On this, the foreign secretary informed her progresses like the enactment of the law on the formation of the Election Commission, and also about the recently concluded country-wide elections of Union Parishads.

Two sides also discussed the situation in Ukraine and its global implications, on the Indo-Pacific Strategy, and on security sector cooperation.

US deputy secretary of state underscored the importance of international rule-based order in the maritime domain, and both sides agreed that further works can be done together in the area of harnessing blue economy.

Masud also discussed the possibility of highest-level visit on the occasion of the 50th year of diplomatic relations, and also on the issue of deportation of the self-confessed killer of the Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur- Rashed Chowdhury- from the US.

The deputy secretary of state appreciated Bangladesh for 6% growth during pandemic situation, robust role in UN peacekeeping, climate change actions and in the Rohingya crisis.

Masud thanked US for providing 61 million vaccines, and elaborated on the Government’s measures to strike balance between life and livelihood during the pandemic.

He also met Julieta Valls Noyes, US Assistant Secretary of State, of the Bureau of Population, Refugee and Migration (PRM) of the Department of State, and discussed on the Rohingya issue.

Assistant Secretary Julieta Noyes is scheduled to visit Bangladesh soon.

She stated that the US really recognizes the generosity of Bangladesh of keeping the forcibly displaced Rohingyas for so long.

Julieta Noyes agreed with Masud that without creating hope of repatriation, the displaced Rohingya population in Bangladesh pose major risks of radicalization and transnational crimes.

Bangladesh foreign secretary underscored that return of the displaced Rohingyas is the best solution.

US Assistant Secretary expressed her country’s willingness to remain deeply engaged, and emphasized on the need for education, livelihood etc. of the displaced Rohingyas.

Foreign Secretary stated that the US should participate in the humanitarian works in Bhasan Char and the Congressional embargo should be lifted.

Assistant Secretary Julieta informed that her upcoming visit is part of the US’s reassessment process in this regard. Foreign Secretary Masud and Assistant Secretary Julieta discussed in details the constraints and challenges of repatriation, and also on possible ways and means.

Masud also met Senior Director of the National Security Council (NSC) of the White House Sumona Guha over a lunch meeting.

During the discussion, two sides agreed that the meeting held this week in Washington DC by the Foreign Minister and the Foreign Secretary of Bangladesh are indeed created new impetus in the bilateral ties, and emphasized on the importance of regular engagements.

Masud underscored that visit at highest level may be agreed upon on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations.

He also discussed the sanctions on RAB and related individuals, and proposed whether the sanctions on RAB can be partially lifted.

They also touched upon the global impact of Ukraine situation, and also on the Rohingya crisis.

They also discussed the Digital Security Act, and Bangladesh’s effort to reexamine the law. Senior Director Guha appreciated Bangladesh’s willingness to engage with the US on human rights issues.

Bangladesh foreign secretary also raised the issue of the return of the self- confessed killer of the Father of the Nation from the US.

Source: United News of Bangladesh