The investigative unit may reveal that the UK planned to impose sanctions on Bangladesh’s counter-terrorism battalion (RAB) in 2021, but it’s unclear why. On December 10, 2021, the United States imposed sanctions on the RAB and seven of its senior incumbents and former members for alleged human rights abuses, including torture and enforced disappearances. The RAB has been likened to a “death squad” by several human rights groups. However, Britain made a last-minute decision not to impose sanctions intended to match restrictions imposed by its closest allies. Al Jazeera was able to confirm this from multiple sources who said they had heard reports that the plan had been withdrawn 11 hours after him.
British lawyer Toby Cadman, a member of the team that applied for sanctions against the RAB to the US and UK governments, told Al Jazeera that the fact that the restrictions were not implemented was a surprise. “I have applied sanctions. Although I cannot discuss the content of it, I can confirm that the application has been discussed with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Development [FCDO],” the Office. “Having worked with both US and UK sanctions requests, we felt strongly that this situation required a coordinated response,” Cadman said. It was aimed at officials and people in the security sector.”
“It was my position for the UK to work with the US to enact mirror sanctions. I was very disappointed when they didn’t.”
Cadman’s disappointment was shared by his Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, liaison officer of the Asian Human Rights Commission, who presented evidence of human rights abuses by his RAB along with sanctions calls against the US and UK. “The UK and US were expected to work together as strong allies by announcing a series of sanctions. said Ashrafzaman.”It surprised us a lot.” Amanda Strayer, senior accountability advocate at Human Rights First, said the UK government’s failure to enforce sanctions was “surprising and disappointing”.
“When the US government is considering imposing sanctions on such persons or entities, it often goes to the UK or Canada or the European Union to see if they are interested in joint action,” Strayer said, “The fact that those jurisdictions did nothing then and a year later is very disappointing.” When asked by the investigative unit, the UK Foreign Office has not denied the allegations or explained the reasons for the last-minute reversal. said:
“The UK is a leader in human rights advocacy around the world and regularly raises human rights issues directly with other governments, including Bangladesh.”