More than 700 extra-judicial killings since formation of RAB

US Government Suspends Support to Controversial Bangladesh Rapid Action Battalion For More Than 700 Extra-judicial Killings Since its Formation
The following article was published in The Dhaka Tribune on 14 February 2014. It follows a communication from the US Government to the Bangladesh Government withdrawing support to the controversial military police outfit RAB for over 760 extra-judicial killings since August 2013.
This will bring further pressure on the Awami League Government at a time when the ICC Prosecutor is reviewing whether crimes committed by the Government justify opening a preliminary inquiry into crimes against humanity.
The United states has informed Bangladesh that it will not continue with training programmes and assistance for the Rapid Action Battalion citing a gross violation of human rights by the battalion personnel.In an official letter to the inspector general of police, the United States said that it had determined that ‘individual members and units of the Rapid Action Battalion are ineligible for US training and assistance as a result of gross violation of human rights which have been committed by RAB members.’
Copies of the letter signed by the chargé-d’affaires at the US embassy in Dhaka, Jon F Danilowicz, on February 3 were also sent to the home secretary and the director general of the battalion, an elite police force police.
The US authorities wanted that the country should take effective steps to bring members responsible for such rights violation to justice for the continuity of the US-funded training programmes.
‘Henceforth, we request that the government of Bangladesh refrain from nominating RAB members for US-funded training opportunities until such time as US restrictions are lifted,’ the letter said.
‘As noted above, this can only occur once there has been a determination that gross violations of human rights by RAB have ceased and the government of Bangladesh takes sufficient corrective action against the perpetrators of past abuses,’ it said.
At least 760 people were killed extrajudicially by the battalion till August 2013 since the elite force was set up in 2004, according to statistics available with rights watchdog Odhikar. In addition, 31 people were tortured to death by RAB during the period.
The US government funds training programmes for foreign security forces under the Foreign Assistance Act 1961.
A battalion official said that they had bee informed of the US stand through the foreign ministry in regard to their training programmes.
The extrajudicial killings by the battalion that began during the BNP-led alliance government continued during the Awami League’s tenure in office although the the current ruling party in its election manifesto in 2008 pledged steps to end such killings.
The Awami League, however, did not mention any such thing regarding the extrajudicial killing in its election manifesto for the national elections that took place on January 5.

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