Though Bangladesh pressed for extradition of a high-profile convict from London, the United Kingdom apparently kept mum, terming the issue “sensitive”.
Diplomatic sources said the Bangladesh side at the 3rd Strategic Dialogue with the UK yesterday strongly raised the issue of extradition of convicted criminals.
They were referring particularly to BNP acting chairperson Tarique Rahman, who has been convicted on charges of corruption and for the gruesome August 21 grenade attack.
Apart from the dialogue, government high officials held confidential discussions on how the BNP leader could be sent back to Dhaka.
Permanent Under Secretary (PUS) of the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald, who led a 21-member delegation to the dialogue, did not directly respond but said Britain did not have any extradition treaty with any country.
The Bangladesh side brought up the example of an Indian businessman being extradited from Britain despite the two countries not having any extradition deal.
The UK counterpart pointed out that Tarique had been granted political asylum, which sources said granted him a legal status and complicated the matter of extradition.
After the dialogue, McDonald delivered a lecture on “Bangladesh and United Kingdom’s Relations in the context of UK’s exit from the European Union” organised by Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies.
The UK reiterated that they wanted to have a good relationship
with Bangladesh no matter what happened regarding Brexit.
“Our intention, no matter what happens, is to have a good relationship with Bangladesh,” said the UK secretary.
“In my view, it’ll be easiest if we leave the European Union with a deal because a deal gives us a framework...,” he said, adding that the worst would be leaving the EU with no deal.
At the event, the top British diplomat faced a number of questions related to extradition, and sheltering convicted criminals and irregular migrants.
McDonald, however, did not give any direct reply when asked if the extradition had come up during the dialogue.
“I’m an official, not a politician but I’ve learned a few things from politicians and my answer is an example of that. In our talks today, we discussed all the issues which were expected to be discussed,” he said.
McDonald said they touched upon 17 different policy areas and climate change was one of those. “Bangladesh is clearly one of the countries which is most affected....Bangladesh and the UK can work closely and will work....,” he added.
Sources said the visa issue also came up during the dialogue when the Bangladesh side requested to expedite the process for Bangladeshi applicants and grant more visas.
Welcoming Bangladesh’s continued commitment to take back its citizens who no longer have the right to remain in the UK, the British counterpart said the number of visas would increase if Bangladesh took back its citizens living in the UK illegally.
McDonald highlighted that the number of visa applicants from Bangladesh was increasing with an average approval rate of around 70 percent in 2018 -- up nearly 10% from 61% in 2016.