Hill Voice, 14 June 2023, International Desk: United States-based international human rights organization Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called for the enhancing of the human rights screening process in the appointment of members of Bangladesh’s security forces in UN peacekeeping missions. HRW said UN Under-Secretary-General Jean-Pierre Lacroix should publicly voice concern over abuses by the Bangladesh government security forces during his upcoming visit to Bangladesh. This call and comments were made by HRW through a statement on 12 June 2023.
The important official of the UN Department of Peace Operations is scheduled to visit Bangladesh soon. It is said that he will attend a conference organized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh.
Lacroix is going to visit Bangladesh at a time when security forces are cracking down on the country’s political opposition, targeting rights activists, family members of missing persons and harassing Rohingya refugees, HRW said in a statement. Bangladesh’s security forces particularly the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), a unit made up of seconded military and police officials have long been implicated in serious human rights violations.
The statement also said that in 2019, the UN Committee against Torture said that personnel that have served with the Rapid Action Battalion have frequently been deployed for service with United Nations peace missions. This is a matter of concern. In such circumstances, the UN committee recommended an independent screening procedure. The purpose of the screening was to 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.
HRW also says the UN should disclose any Bangladeshi officials involved with the RAB, and bar anyone affiliated with the force from joining peacekeeping missions. The United Nations Peacekeeping Mission Department must ensure that not only high-ranking officers, but all members of the Bangladeshi military forces are scrutinized for human rights issues.
Calling on Jean-Pierre Lacroix, HRW said the UN must publicly commit to an enhanced human rights screening that addresses well-documented abuses by Bangladesh security forces, the government’s failure to hold those responsible to account, and the threat they pose to the integrity of UN peacekeeping worldwide.
The statement also said that Bangladesh’s contribution to the UN peacekeeping mission is the highest. To maintain this position, Bangladesh must properly comply with the United Nations human rights screening policy. Through this, the Bangladesh government must ensure that their nationals serving with the UN have not violated human rights laws.
It should be noted that before this, on May 25, 2023, six US Congressmen wrote to US President Joe Biden calling for appropriate measures to prevent the deployment of Bangladesh military forces in peacekeeping missions of the United Nations to give best chance for forthcoming free and fair elections of Bangladesh. The six congressmen are Scott Perry, Barry Moore, Warren Davidson, Bob Goode, Tim Borsett and Keith Self.
Regarding the letter sent to Joe Biden, Priti Bindu Chakma of the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) said that in the letter sent to President Joe Biden, six congressmen rightly point out that the military is persecuting ethnic minorities like the indigenous Jumma people of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The CHT region is the most militarized region in the world. The indigenous Jumma people are the most victims of torture by the military forces of Bangladesh. Since the independence of Bangladesh till to date, the Jumma people have been under brutal military rule.