Government Policy

Withdrawal of Sanctions: Bangladesh to appoint lawyers in US

Bangladesh will appoint certified lawyers in the United States to pursue the withdrawal of sanctions imposed on the elite force Rapid Action Battalion (Rab).

“We’re in the process of appointing legal assistance in the US,” Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen said this week, noting that it is a legal process, not an administrative one.

As Bangladeshi lawyers will not be able to do the job, it will have to be done by the certified lawyers in the US, he said, adding that some initial legal steps have been taken already.

The foreign secretary said the process is different in dealing with the sanctions on individuals and Rab as an institution.

He recently visited the United States and accompanied Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen at the bilateral meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the US State Department on April 4.

Masud also led the Bangladesh delegation at the 8th Bangladesh-US Security Dialogue held in Washington.

Bangladesh sought resumption of training and capacity building programmes for its law enforcement agencies in any format.

Withdrawal of Sanctions: Bangladesh to appoint lawyers in US

Since Rab is facing sanctions, Bangladesh placed an alternative proposal to include police, BGB and judicial magistrates for capacity building training in the US.

During his meeting with Foreign Minister Momen, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken recognised the elite force Rab’s important counterterrorism role, but stated that lifting sanctions and resuming training with American forces may take time.

Momen emphasized that Bangladeshi law enforcers need training from the US on rules of engagement, and informed that there is an inbuilt system of inquiry in the RAB, which tracks all allegations, based on which a number of personnel have been penalized.

Depicting the context of the creation of Rab in 2004, he underscored that Rab has played a pivotal role in Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism efforts, which may be undermined by the sanctions.

Desire for Improved Relations

Foreign Secretary Masud said the US side took each meeting very seriously and both sides showed the willingness to further improve the relations.

Even his meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman lasted over an hour, he said. “They’re very serious about strengthening the relations.”

Withdrawal of Sanctions: Bangladesh to appoint lawyers in US

He said in their shared journey there might be irritants or irritants will be there but the both sides are working on how they can address those issues and how they will manage expectations from each other.

In the next couple of months, he said, there will be more high-level interactions including military to military interaction in Hawaii, economic dialogue and business council. “We think we can take forward our comprehensive relations in a better way.”

Responding to a question, the foreign secretary said the Bangladesh side conveyed to the US that the government also wants to see free, fair and participatory elections.

There is no deficit from the government side in terms of commitment to that end, he said, adding that there is scope for strengthening institutions in any democratic journey.