"Bangladesh needs to look into the matter with absolute priority" - Shahab Enam Khan
The Sanction that has been issued by the US authority sends a strong message to Bangladesh on multiple grounds including its renewed foreign policy and values that is different than the previous Trump administration.
This is a critical message which has come immediately after the conclusion of the democracy summit. The timing is important here. Therefore, Bangladesh needs to look into the matter with absolute priority. Necessary initiatives to deal with such an allegation and sanctions through diplomatic, political and every other means should be channelised.
However, it is disappointing to see that Bangladesh has been put in line with the countries such as North Korea or Myanmar which significantly stands different, both in terms of human rights records and political standing, in the global, regional and the domestic scale.
"Bangladesh needs to resolve this issue on its own" - Dr Imtiaz Ahmed
I don't think it will have a big impact. The United States occasionally takes such steps. There is no doubt that extrajudicial killings are very bad. But every year, the US has a higher number of extrajudicial killings than in Bangladesh. Moreover, there are several countries in South Asia where extrajudicial killings are taking place. Extrajudicial killings take place even in our India-Bangladesh border. It happens in Pakistan as well. But we do not see any such action against those countries.
From that point on, the question remains that what kind of information did they (the United States) get, and what is the basis of their decision. It could be that they have chosen a few countries to show that they want to work on democracy. However, it will not create an impact on large scale. And I don't think it will degrade Bangladesh-US relations.
However, as I said, extrajudicial killings are not justifiable, so Bangladesh needs to solve this problem on its own. In our own interest, any extrajudicial killing or disappearance must be thoroughly investigated.
Many extrajudicial killings - not all – are linked to drug trafficking. And it is important for the United States to know that many countries have a zero-tolerance policy on drugs. So, will we allow drugs to spread across the country, or we take a tougher stance against it? If it could always be done lawfully, then it would be better. But that is not possible.
Moreover, as I said, many smugglers are regularly killed on the Indo-Bangladesh border, and almost all of them are unarmed. But the US never takes any action or says anything to India about those killings.
So this is what I will say again, this is an internal issue that Bangladesh needs to resolve on its own. Bangladesh is the eighth most populous country in the world. However, if I look at the number of extrajudicial killings, the number of such killings in Bangladesh is much less than in the United States. So the problem that a country is plagued by itself, if they want to solve the problems of other countries instead of solving their own problems, then there will be no solution. It will remain a political issue.
"This sanction has put stain on our national image" - Nur Khan
It seems to me that the seven people who have been sanctioned here likely have been held accountable because they hold responsible positions. They are at the top of the chain of command.
Over the past decade, human rights activists and human rights groups in Bangladesh have repeatedly called on the government to set up an independent commission of inquiry into the disappearances and 'crossfires'.
But the problem is that those who run the state of Bangladesh have shown indifference in this regard. Many of their comments on this matter are ridiculous.
For example, they often say that missing persons are indebted so they are hiding. Attempts have also been made to justify the crossfire incidents as 'gunfire' between the two sides. But ordinary people and human rights activists are convinced that they are all extrajudicial killings or enforced disappearances.
Despite the demands, no action has been taken by the government, it has been side-lined. It has exposed the weakness of the state as well. No state can survive alone in the current world. A state depends on another for business, culture, language and various other reasons. Just the way we depend on the United States for many reasons, similarly, the US is also dependent on us for many reasons. So, a country has responsibilities and obligations with whom it will maintain relations, and do business.
So, The United States obviously observes the democracy of a country and its human rights situation. And that is the basis on which they determine their relationship.
Probably this is why the US has imposed sanctions on RAB and some of its officials, and they are also saying that if the sanctioned persons' properties in the US will be confiscated. This incident has put stain on our national image.
If the government had earlier taken action by setting up an independent commission of inquiry into these matters, the responsibility would not be on the state today.
Today's responsibility is not only on the six individuals, but also on the former or current members of the organisation they belong to, and if it continues, the state also will not be able to pass that responsibility.
Shahab Enam Khan is a professor of International Relations at Jahangirnagar University
Imtiaz Ahmed is a professor of International Relations at the University of Dhaka.
Nur Khan is a Human Rights Activist