At least six officer and RAB were blacklisted and sanctioned by US. Today, on International Human Rights Day, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) is designating 15 individuals and 10 entities for their connection to human rights abuse and repression in several countries around the globe, pursuant to multiple sanctions authorities.
United States Department of State says Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion and six individuals linked to it were sanctioned by Treasury for being “an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse”. The statement added, widespread allegations of serious human rights abuse in Bangladesh by the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB)—as part of the Bangladeshi government’s war on drugs—threaten U.S. national security interests by undermining the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and the economic prosperity of the people of Bangladesh.
State department says, RAB is a joint task force founded in 2004 and composed of members of the police, army, navy, air force, and border guards seconded to the RAB from their respective units. Its mandate includes internal security, intelligence gathering related to criminal activities, and government-directed investigations. NGOs have alleged that RAB and other Bangladeshi law enforcement are responsible for more than 600 disappearances since 2009, nearly 600 extrajudicial killings since 2018, and torture. Some reports suggest these incidents target opposition party members, journalists, and human rights activists.
The statement confirmed that RAB is designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being a foreign entity that is responsible for or complicit in, or has directly or indirectly engaged in, serious human rights abuse.
Additionally, the following individuals are designated pursuant to E.O. 13818 for being foreign persons who are or have been a leader or official of RAB, an entity that has engaged in, or whose members have engaged in, serious human rights abuse relating to their tenure:
- Chowdhury Abdullah Al-Mamun, Director General, RAB, April 15, 2020 to present
- Benazir Ahmed, former Director General, RAB, January 2015 to April 14, 2020
- Khan Mohammad Azad, Additional Director General (Operations), RAB, March 16, 2021 to present
- Tofayel Mustafa Sorwar, former Additional Director General (Operations), RAB, June 27, 2019 to March 16, 2021
- Mohammad Jahangir Alam, former Additional Director General (Operations), RAB, September 17, 2018 to June 27, 2019
- Mohammad Anwar Latif Khan, former Additional Director General (Operations), RAB, April 28, 2016 to September 17, 2018
Today, the U.S. Department of State has announced visa restrictions under Section 7031(c) of the FY 2021 Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act on Benazir Ahmed due to his involvement in gross violations of human rights, making him ineligible for entry into the United States.
The US imposed the sanctions also tied to China, Myanmar and North Korea and added Chinese artificial intelligence startup SenseTime Group to an economic blacklist.