WikiLeaks: Bangladeshi security force accused of rights abuse

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

LONDON - A leaked US diplomatic cable has mentioned “alleged human rights violations” by a Bangladeshi paramilitary force, the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), that Britain has trained.

The Guardian, citing US diplomatic cables put out by WikiLeaks, reported that the British government has been training RAB which has been termed by human rights organisations as a “government death squad”.

RAB personnel have received British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement”, the media report said.

A cable said that the US would not offer any assistance other than human rights training to the RAB.

The US ambassador said in the cables that the US government is “constrained by RAB’s alleged human rights violations, which have rendered the organisation ineligible to receive training or assistance” under laws which prohibit American funding or training for overseas military units which abuse human rights with impunity.

Some human rights activists have alleged that since the RAB was established six years ago it has been responsible for more than 1,000 extra-judicial killings. In September last year, the RAB director general said his men had killed 577 people in “cross-fire”. In March this year he updated the figure, saying they had killed 622 people.

However, the cables also state that both the British and the Americans were in favour of bolstering the force and argued that the “RAB enjoys a great deal of respect and admiration from a population scarred by decreasing law and order over the last decade”.

The US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, in a cable said that the RAB is the “enforcement organisation best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation”.

In another cable, Moriarty quotes British officials as saying they have been “training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement”.

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