Toby Cadman, a UK lawyer who was part of the team that asked the US and UK governments for sanctions against Bangladesh's Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), has told Al Jazeera that everyone involved was surprised when UK decided not to implement sanctions.
In a report published on 6 December, 2022, Al Jazeera made the revelation.
Incidentally, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami engaged Toby Cadman as its legal advisor in London in 2011, after the trials of several top Jamaat leaders started – over war crimes committed during the 1971 Liberation War.
The media was informed at the time by Tajul Islam – attorney for five Jamaat leaders – that Steven Kay QC, Toby Cadman, and John Cammegh had agreed to represent the Jamaat leaders.
Cadman was quoted by Al Jazeera as saying, "I filed the request for sanctions and whilst I am not in a position to discuss the substance, I can confirm that I discussed the request with the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office [FCDO, UK]."
"Having worked on both the US and UK request for sanctions, I was strongly of the view that a coordinated response was necessary in the circumstances… Our filing in the UK targeted political officials and those in the security sector," Cadman said.
He went on to say: "It was certainly my position that the UK would issue mirror sanctions in coordination with the US. I was extremely disappointed when they failed to do so."
Mohammad Ashrafuzzaman, a liaison officer at the Asian Human Rights Commission who submitted the proof of human rights violations by RAB attached to the sanctions petitions to the US and the UK, echoed Cadman's dismay, according to the Al Jazeera report.
Ashrafuzzaman pointed out that the US utilised the evidence his team gathered to justify the sanctions against RAB.
Ashrafuzzaman told Al Jazeera: "The evidence was sent to the US state department and treasury, it was used by the US. That evidence was sent to the UK as well."
Asian Human Rights Commission, in a statement released in October, alleged that "the pro-government media and the internal and external allies of the Government of Bangladesh are running a smear campaign against the UN Independent Experts, specially the Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) for their consistent attention to address the issue of enforced disappearance."
Responding to that, Professor Dr Mizanur Rahman, former Chairman of National Human Rights Commission, wrote: "What the (Asian Human Rights) Commission, however, failed to consider is that it was not an attempt to vilify any human rights body, rather the intention was to simply pinpoint the inconsistency and inaccuracy of the data coming from an institution like the UN which has always been at the forefront of defending human rights across the globe."
BNP Secretary General Mirza Fakhrul Islam Alamgir, in an interview published last month, had said the US sanctions on RAB helped rejuvenate the BNP rank and file to take to the streets fearlessly, as reflected in its recent rallies.