Dhaka: According to media report, several members of an anti-crime unit in Bangladesh accused of human rights abuses travelled to the UK in 2022 to attend security training.
Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a law enforcement unit dubbed the “death squad” by human rights organizations, travelled to the UK in May and October 2022 to complete a cyber security course and training on the use of mass surveillance devices.
Although RAB has been sanctioned by the US for its involvement in human rights violations such as extrajudicial killings and forced disappearances, the British law enforcement experts' order nonetheless comes in the wake of the sanctions.
News of the RAB’s training in the UK led by media to discover that the UK had reversed a decision to join the US in imposing sanctions on the police force in 2021. It is unclear why the UK government chose not to sanction the RAB.
If that had been the case, the 2022 training trips would probably not have happened, but the sanctions were inexplicably not implemented by the UK, although the US did.
“RAB is reaching out to US partner countries for the kind of training, tools and resources they need to be a more ‘effective’ force back home in Bangladesh. And by effective, I mean they will continue to engage in the repression in Bangladesh,” said Amanda Strayer, senior accountability advocate at human rights NGO Human Rights First.
The British High Commission in Dhaka was alerted of the RAB members' trips via a memo from the Bangladesh Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to the document reviewed by the media and presented to the FCDO.
In May, at least five officers travelled to the UK to attend a training course run by the Cyber Incident Response Management Foundation and a cyber security practitioner training course run by Irish company IT Governance, according to the documents.