Lifting ban on RAB a long-term process: Foreign Minister

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said the lifting of US sanctions on RAB was a long-term process, even as the government continued diplomatic efforts.

The Foreign Minister said this in response to a question by Jatiya Party MP Mujibul Haque Chunnu during a question and answer session in the Jatiya Sangsad on Thursday. Questions are raised on the table in Parliament session.

Momen said, “Removing the ban on RAB is a long-term process. Since the imposition of sanctions on RAB is a political issue, diplomatic efforts have been vigorously pursued since the beginning to resolve it.

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other agencies of the government are working together to withdraw the ban and prevent such bans from happening in the future. The Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC is in constant contact with the US State Department. According to their advice, the Ministry of External Affairs has taken action.”

He also said that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is coordinating regularly between the RAB, legal aid agencies, the Ministry of Law and the Embassy of Bangladesh.

Highlighting the steps taken by the government to lift the ban on RAB, the foreign minister said, “I spoke to US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on the phone immediately after the ban was imposed. Then there was a discussion about how Bangladesh and the United States will work to lift the ban.

“Later on his invitation, I visited Washington and held a bilateral meeting. In the meeting, I highlighted Bangladesh’s position on the ban on RAB and the development of human rights situation. During that trip, a meeting was held with various individuals including senators, congressmen. We request them to support us in lifting the ban. I emphasize on the formation of the Congressional Bangladesh Caucus.”

Momen said that the ban on RAB was discussed in a meeting with US Assistant Secretary of State Donald Lu, who recently visited Bangladesh, “Donald Lu especially appreciated the current activities of RAB.”

Momen said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bangladesh Embassy in Washington DC along with legal aid organizations have continued strong diplomatic efforts to lift the ban on RAB.”

In December 2021, the United States imposed sanctions on the RAB and seven of its former and current officials, alleging serious human rights violations. After that, the government of Bangladesh requested to withdraw the ban on several occasions, but the United States did not respond. The US has always said that the process of lifting sanctions is quite ‘complicated’.

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