DHAKA : ( AFP ) -According to a senior US ambassador now in Bangladesh, sanctions on an elite Bangladeshi police unit suspected of arbitrary murders won’t be lifted until the force is reformatted.
Last week, State Department Counselor Derek Chollet travelled to the South Asian nation where he spoke with officials in Dhaka about security cooperation.
The ambassador is among the most senior US government representatives to visit Bangladesh since Washington censured the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) for violating human rights.
At the end of his tour on Wednesday, Chollet said, “If there’s a loss in democracy everywhere, it begins to put a limiting influence on what we can achieve together.”
On the penalties, he said, “We are dedicated to continuing to assist Bangladesh develop the rule of law and security.”
We won’t be able to move beyond this unless there is accountability and lasting change, the speaker said.
Washington and Dhaka often maintain cordial ties. They work together on security-related matters, and Bangladesh often joins the United States in voting at the UN.
But, the political atmosphere in Bangladesh, where the party of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina controls the legislature and effectively operates it as a rubber-stamp parliament, has drawn alarm from the US and other Western nations.
According to the rights organisation Odhikar, since Hasina took office in 2009, security forces are believed to have murdered almost 2,500 citizens of Bangladesh.
Rights organisations accuse the RAB of murdering political rivals and orchestrating gunfights to prevent victims from receiving fair judicial treatment.
One minister said that some of those reported missing had really left Bangladesh while the government rejects the claims of extrajudicial executions and disappearances.
Seven prominent current or former RAB officials were subject to asset freezes and travel restrictions as a result of US sanctions that were put in place in December 2021.
Chollet concluded his South Asia trip with an official visit to Pakistan after meeting Hasina in Dhaka.