June 24, 2024, 12:45 pm

US is ‘not withdrawing’ sanctions on RAB

  • Update Time : Friday, May 17, 2024
  • 16 Time View
Photo: Collected

Staff Correspondent:

The US State Department has denied the ‘false claim’ by an official from Bangladesh’s government regarding the country’s willingness to lift the sanctions imposed on the Rapid Action Battalion.

In response to a question at the daily briefing on Friday night, Vedant Patel, principal deputy spokesperson for the US State Department, said “Those claims are false. The US is not withdrawing sanctions against the RAB. Sanctions are intended to change behaviour and promote accountability.”

In December 2021, the United States imposed sanctions on the elite police unit and seven of its former and current officials for alleged “serious human rights violations”.

Bangladesh has requested the lifting of the sanctions on several occasions, but with little response from the US, which has maintained that the process of lifting sanctions is quite ‘complicated’.

US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu visited Dhaka on May 14-16 with a call to “look forward” and leave behind the tension between the two countries surrounding the elections in Bangladesh.

On the first day of the visit, Washington’s point person for South Asia attended a dinner at the residence of Prime Minister’s Private Industry and Investment Advisor Salman F Rahman.

Three government ministers and state ministers also joined the dinner, which lasted for more than one and a half hours.

Rahman shared with the media various aspects of their ‘informal discussion’ after the dinner.

The two sides discussed the withdrawal of sanctions on RAB over human rights issues and the repatriation of one of Bangabandhu’s killers from the US.

“We also asked them to repatriate Bangabandhu’s killer Rashed Chowdhury,” Rahman said. “They said the matters [sanctions and Rashed’s deportation] were being looked into by their Justice Department.

“They said they [State Department] were pushing the Biden administration on the issues.”

He recalled that Lu praised the RAB’s improvements during his previous visits.

“So, we said they should lift the sanctions now. They said the White House also pushed for it, but their Justice Department follows a procedure in such matters. He [Lu] is hopeful that [withdrawal of sanctions] will occur.”

The next day, Lu held a bilateral meeting with Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen as well as Foreign Minister Hasan Mahmud and Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Saber Hossain Chowdhury.

In a briefing after the meeting, Lu talked about putting the ‘tensions’ of last year between the US and Bangladesh behind them and ‘looking forward’, but highlighted the RAB sanctions as a “difficult issue” for both countries.

A journalist asked Patel about Salman Rahman’s remarks within 24 hours of Lu leaving Dhaka. Patel then described Rahman’s claims as ‘false’.

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