Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen on Tuesday said government efforts and discussions are underway to resolve the issue with the United States over the sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and seven of its top officials.
"We will discuss the matter with the United States. Hopefully, they will change their stance since not all their decisions need to be right," he said while responding to a question at a virtual press conference on the occasion of the Indian president's visit to Bangladesh on Tuesday.
Earlier, on Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked three ministers to oversee and mitigate the sanctions imposed on the RAB and several of its former and current officials over human rights violations.
The responsibility has been delegated to Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan, and Law Minister Anisul Huq.
Regarding the matter, the foreign minister said, "We will discuss the issue among ourselves and then respond. It will not be right to do it unilaterally."
Terming the US decision regrettable, he said, "We are not such a powerful nation. The decision was taken without having any dialogue with us, while both the countries share a pleasant relationship. It seems to be the result of instigation by some people or organisations – such as human rights organisations and NGOs."
Asked if the sanctions would affect the relationship between the two countries, Dr Momen said he believed that the development will not have any negative effects on bilateral ties between the two countries.
He said the US global policy is to prevent terrorism and the RAB plays a pioneering role in the fight against terrorism as well as drug trafficking in Bangladesh.
"By and large, the RAB is not corrupt. They do not take bribes to change their position. So, they have earned the people's trust," said the foreign minister.
The minister said every year thousands of people are killed by the police in the US, while only one or two people are sporadically killed in Bangladesh.
"They complained that 600 people have gone missing here in the last 10 years but we have information that six lakh people go missing in the US every year," he added.
On 10 November, the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control imposed sanctions on 10 organisations and 15 individuals from various countries, including Bangladesh, who were found to have been involved in human rights abuses and repression.
Of the organisations and individuals, the RAB, its former director general and current Inspector General of Police Benazir Ahmed, and current RAB Director General Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun face the US ban under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act, EO 13818, citing "serious human rights abuse relating to their tenure."
Due to the sanctions, they will not get a US visa, and may even have their assets in the US confiscated.
Earlier, US Ambassador to Bangladesh Earl R Miller was summoned by Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen on Saturday to convey Dhaka's discontent over the designated sanctions.