US Assistant Secretary Donald Lu praised the Bangladesh government for the reduction in allegations of extrajudicial killings, but indicated no time frame for the removal of sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion, the American embassy in Dhaka says.
Jeff Ridenour, a spokesman for the mission, said on Tuesday Lu also praised the government for the “dramatic” reduction in the number of allegations of enforced disappearance in 2022.
Lu, the US assistant secretary of state for South and Central Asia, held meetings with government officials and members of the civil society during his two-day visit that ended on Sunday.
After his meeting with Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen, Lu said: “We had quite good discussions about the RAB. If you have seen the statement this week by HRW [Human Rights Watch], they recognised and we recognise tremendous progress in the area of reducing extrajudicial killings by the RAB. This is amazing work.”
“It shows that RAB is able to carry out this important counter-terrorism and law enforcement function while respecting human rights,” he said.
The US imposed the sanctions on the RAB as well as seven of its current and former officers in December 2021, citing serious human rights violations.
Embassy spokesman Ridenour said: “We applaud the Government of Bangladesh's efforts in these continued reforms and encourage the Bangladesh government to conduct independent investigations of alleged extrajudicial killings.
“During his meetings in Dhaka, Assistant Secretary Lu did not indicate a time frame for the removal of RAB sanctions.”
After his meeting with the senior US official, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said Lu indicated the sanctions would be removed if Bangladesh continued working to improve the human rights situation surrounding the RAB, but gave no time frame.
“We think and hope the sanctions will be removed very soon,” the home minister said.