Rab in for reckoning
Rab will neither be allowed to own properties in the US nor engage in transactions with anyone in the US because of the sanctions.
However, only the seven former and current high officials of Rab, who were named in Friday's order will be restricted from entering the United States, according to an official of the US Embassy in Dhaka. Other Rab employees will not necessarily be affected by this.
The executive order 13818 to which Rab has been subjected to is titled "Blocking the Property of Persons Involved in Serious Human Rights Abuse or Corruption".
The term "person" refers to an individual or entity in the order.
"As a result of designations pursuant to the Executive Order, all of the property and interests in property within US jurisdiction of the designated individuals and entities are blocked," said the official, "and accordingly, a US person generally may not engage in any transactions with such an entity, unless authorised by the Office of Foreign Assets Control."
In the order, the term "United States person" means any US citizen, permanent resident, entity organised under the laws of the US or any jurisdiction within the US (including foreign branches), or any individual in the United States.
The executive order signed by former president Donald Trump in 2017 mentioned that properties of individuals or entities subjected to the sanctions cannot be transferred, exported or withdrawn.
The embassy official said that the Global Magnitsky Act, which enabled the sanction against Rab, is focused on assets of designated entities.
Currently, the named individuals on the Specially Designated Nationals list are former director general of Rab Benazir Ahmed, Director General of Rab Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun, Additional Director General (operations) of Rab Khan Mohammad Azad, former additional director general (operations) of Rab Tofayel Mustafa Sorwar, former additional director general (operations) of Rab Mohammad Jahangir Alam, and former additional director general (operations) of Rab Mohammad Anwar Latif Khan.
Besides, a travel ban was imposed on Lt Col Miftah Uddin Ahmed, a former official of Rab.
The executive order prohibits making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked. It also prohibits the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.
Over the years, Human Rights Watch, Robert F Kennedy Human Rights and senate bodies made multiple requests for sanctions on Rab.
On August 30, 2021, a US congressional body, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which is a caucus body of the US House of Representatives, held a hearing with two international rights bodies that recommended sanctions be taken against Bangladesh over the actions of Rab.
At the hearing, Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said the US should impose targeted sanctions against top security forces to spur accountability, while Angelita Baeyens, vice president of the international advocacy and litigation department at Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, called for Rab officials to be banned from joining the UN peacekeeping missions.
At that hearing, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston said, "Bangladesh has already been exposed. I have heard it; the commission has heard it."
Earlier last year, 10 US senators from the Republican and the Democratic parties urged the Trump administration to impose targeted sanctions on "senior commanders" of Rab, which they said had reportedly killed more than 400 people extrajudicially since 2015.
In the UK on August 24 this year, a human rights-focused international justice chamber, Guernica 37, called on the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to slap sanctions on nine current and former senior officers of Rab.
It said sanctions would "send a clear message to the government of Bangladesh that the UK does not tolerate serious human rights abuses, even from a partner".
Contacted, Robert Chatterton Dickson, the UK high commissioner in Bangladesh, said, "At this moment, however, we are not imposing any sanctions for any officials or entities in Bangladesh."
The EU, UK, US and Canada have in the past coordinated with each other regarding sanctions.
On the day the sanctions on Rab were announced, Canada and the UK joined the US in sanctioning specific entities affiliated with the Myanmar military.
On December 2, 2021, they all imposed coordinated sanctions on Belarus for human rights violations and for creating a migrant crisis at the Belarusian borders.
On May 17, 2021, US, UK and Canada imposed parallel sanctions on Myanmar military junta for executing a coup, detaining and deposing Aung San Suu Kyi.
On March 22, 2021, Britain, the EU, the US and Canada imposed sanctions on senior Chinese officials who played a role in the persecution of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province.
At present the US does not train Rab and Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit of police because of rights violations.
In 2010, a leaked US Embassy cable published in Wikileaks claimed that the UK had provided training to Rab on "investigative interviewing techniques". Following that, the Human Rights Watch recommended that the UK ends the provision of any training to Rab.