Parliamentary body blames foreign ministry behind US sanctions on Rab
A parliamentary body has blamed the foreign ministry behind US sanctions on Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) and its officials.
The parliamentary standing committee on foreign affairs in a meeting at the Jatiya Sangsad Bhaban considered it an utter failure that the Bangladesh Embassy in the US was totally oblivious about such a decision of the US against this important law enforcement agency in Bangladesh.
The parliamentary watchdog asked the ministry to inform it whether any other country or organisation is imposing any kind of sanctions against Bangladesh and also recommended the missions located in different important countries including America and Europe to play a more active and responsible role.
This information was obtained from the minutes of the meeting of the Jatiya Sangsad committee held today (April 27, 2022). The minutes were approved in the meeting.
The US on December 10, last year imposed human rights-related sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion and seven current and former top officials of the agency, including Benazir Ahmed, now inspector general of police.
Benazir, former director general of Rab, and five officials were designated by the Department of the Treasury under the Global Magnitsky sanctions programme in connection with serious rights abuse.
The five are Rab Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun; Khan Mohammad Azad, additional director general (operations) of Rab; Tofayel Mustafa Sorwar, former additional director general (operations); Mohammad Jahangir Alam, former additional director general (operations), and Mohammad Anwar Latif Khan, former additional director general (operations).
Besides, the US State Department barred Benazir, and another former official of Rab Lt Col Miftah Uddin Ahmed, from traveling to the United States.
According to the minutes of the meeting, the chairman of the committee, Muhammad Farooq Khan, said it is an utter failure on the part of the Bangladesh embassy in Washington that it had no idea about the imposition of sanctions against Bangladesh.
He advised all missions in America and Europe to work more actively and responsibly.
Nahim Razzak, a member of the committee, said that a group with vested interest is carrying out propaganda for a long time to make the government controversial before the world by recruiting lobbyists in different countries. But the foreign ministry has failed to deal with this propaganda.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said Bangladesh missions abroad work as lobbyists. But the lobbyist firms appointed by others are more influential because the embassy officials are not so close to the lawmakers of that country. On the other hand, the question of accountability comes while spending public money to hire lobbyist firms.
The foreign secretary said that an anti-government clique was engaged in anti-national activities by recruiting lobbyists for huge sums of money and providing false information. Although embassies have worked to prevent such activities, they have not been successful.
Fayaz Murshid Kazi, DG of the US wing of the foreign ministry, said the US did not raise or discuss the issue of sanctions against the Rab in any forum, they did it very secretly.
Muhammad Farooq Khan presided over the meeting.