The Bangladesh government should meaningfully respond to the United Nations concerns regarding grave allegations of torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings in the country, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said on Thursday.
In a press release, the HRW said the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) should be excluded from UN peacekeeping deployment, adding that UN human rights experts had earlier this month called on the Bangladesh government to "immediately cease reprisals against human rights defenders and relatives of forcibly disappeared persons for their activism and co-operation with international human rights bodies and UN mechanisms."
Brad Adams, Asia director at HRW, said Bangladesh's government was seeking greater influence at the UN while "simultaneously ignoring the UN's inquiries into human rights violations by Bangladesh security forces."
"Bangladesh authorities are only jeopardising the country's standing in UN peacekeeping operations by ignoring allegations of abuse and failing to clean up their act," the press release quoted him as saying.
In July 2019, following its review of Bangladesh's record, the UN Committee against Torture noted that "in general, one got the impression that the police, as well as other law enforcement agencies, were able to operate with impunity and zero accountability."
The rights body recommended that the Bangladesh government "establish an independent vetting procedure, with appropriate UN guidance, for all military and police personnel proposed for deployment in UN peace missions and ensure that no person or unit implicated in the commission of torture, extrajudicial killing, disappearances or other serious human rights violations is selected for service."
It further said that the government had not demonstrated any efforts to improve vetting, and was instead seeking more senior UN peacekeeping positions for its police and military personnel, claims the HRW.
On 8 November, 12 human rights organisations raised concerns with UN Department of Peace Operations Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix that the letter and spirit of the 2012 United Nations Policy on Human Rights Screening of United Nations Personnel is not being sufficiently applied in relation to Bangladeshi nationals and that the vetting procedure should be made consistent, transparent, and independent.
The Bangladesh government has a habit of ignoring the UN's concerns over its human rights record, the release said.
According to Bangladeshi human rights groups, nearly 600 people have been forcibly disappeared by security forces since Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took office in 2009, mentions HRW.
While some victims have been released or produced in court after weeks or months of secret detention, others became victims of extrajudicial killings that are falsely claimed to be deaths during gunfights, says the release.
"Bangladesh contributes more troops to UN peacekeeping than any country in the world, but the UN's reliance on Bangladeshi troops should not mean relaxed human rights vetting procedures," Adams said.