The United States has told Bangladesh that US sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and its seven former and current officials will not go away abruptly, said Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen about the recently concluded US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue.
The minister told a media briefing that such discussions had taken place during the recent Dhaka visit by US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland.
"The US delegates said that it's an ongoing process, a complicated one. So verbal complaints alone will not lift the sanctions. However, they said they will work on it," said Momen.
On 10 December last year, the United States imposed sanctions over allegations of serious human rights violations. Subsequently, the government summoned the then US ambassador to Dhaka and expressed its discontent. A lobbyist was also hired later to improve Dhaka-Washington ties.
Dhaka raised the issue again as US Under Secretary for Political Affairs Victoria Nuland visited Bangladesh on 19-21 March to join the eight US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue. The US under secretary also told journalists that the ban incorporated a complicated process, but the two countries would continue the discussion.
Momen told the briefing that he would also discuss lifting the sanctions during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington in April.
"We have talked about the sanctions with each US representative we met since 10 December last year. You have heard what the US under secretary had said. She said they are happy that no one has died in the past three months because of RAB," he said.
"We have told them we are taking preventative measures. I mean, these were already in our system, but they did not work out properly many times," the minister said.
"We want the measures to work. Because, if something goes wrong, we have a judicial process. But we haven't enforced it seriously earlier. We are saying it out loud now. We are taking action."
The foreign minister also spoke about RAB's achievements in checking human trafficking, tackling narcotics network and terrorism, which are in line with the global policy of the United State.
Referring to the discussion during the US-Bangladesh Partnership Dialogue, he said, "RAB has done a great job, especially in combating terrorism. You have acknowledged that. We will be happy if you withdraw the sanctions so that RAB can continue its work."
The foreign minister also commented that Bangladesh and the United States share the same democratic ideology.
He said, "The way Bangladesh has been witnessing a smooth democracy for the last 13 years was absent previously."
"You have to admit that the people of our country have a very democratic mentally as they want fair and participatory polls," he added.