Media may come under purview of US visa policy: Haas
US Ambassador to Bangladesh Peter Haas today said media in Bangladesh may also come under the purview of US visa policy.
He came up with the remark in an exclusive interview with Channel 24 at its office, reports the private television channel.
"We are applying the policy in a balanced way against anyone regardless of whether they are pro-government, whether they are in the opposition, or whether they are law enforcement, whether they are in the judiciary, whether it's the media," said Peter Haas.
"But it is based on behaviours. It's not based on anything else but their actions," he said.
A video clip of his interview was released on the television's YouTube channel.
Earlier on Friday, the US Department of State said it was taking steps to impose visa restrictions on Bangladeshi individuals responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh.
"These individuals include members of law enforcement, the ruling party, and the political opposition," said State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller in a statement on Friday.
He said the US is committed to supporting free and fair elections in Bangladesh that are carried out in a peaceful manner.
"These persons and members of their immediate family may be found ineligible for entry into the United States," Miller added.
Additional persons found to have been responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh may also be found ineligible for US visas under this policy in the future, he said.
"This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of opposition and ruling political parties, and members of law enforcement, the judiciary, and security services," said Miller.
Earlier on May 24 this year, Washington announced the visa policy on Bangladesh against the backdrop of the alleged irregularities in the 2014 and 2018 elections.
The government says the elections will be held under the current administration as per the constitution, but the opposition BNP is demanding an interim administration, arguing that a free and fair election under the current government is not possible.
In the announcement on May 24, Washington said the actions that undermine the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their right to freedoms of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views.
Earlier on December 10, 2021, the US imposed sanctions on RAB and seven of its current and former officials for alleged enforced disappearances and extrajudicial killings and torture. The US did not invite Bangladesh to the democracy summit in 2021 and 2023.
A series of visits to Bangladesh by the top US officials took place over the last two years. They invariably spoke of free and fair elections, upholding human rights, media freedom and the protection of the human rights defenders.