UN to look into calls over Rab peacekeeping ban

The Report Desk

Published: January 21, 2022, 09:44 PM

UN to look into calls over Rab peacekeeping ban

Just a day after the letter by 12 human rights bodies to ban Rapid Action Battalion from UN  peacekeeping missions was made public, the global body on Friday said it will look into the demand.

"The UN, I mean, we just received the news of this.  We will obviously be taking a look at it. I would remind you that we do have a pretty stringent human rights screening policy that applies to individual units from every country. But, we, obviously, have been taking very seriously what is being done," UN secretary-general's Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.

His fremarks came during his afternoon briefing and in response to a question from a journalist that if the UN is concerned and considering any action following a letter from 12 human rights organizations to the Under‑Secretary‑General for Peacekeeping Operations, urging that the Rapid Action Battalion be banned from UN peacekeeping, and US sanctions on Rab.

On December 10, the US announced sanctions on Rab and seven of its current and former members over human rights violations.

The rights bodies that wrote to the UN on November 8, 2021, include Human Rights Watch, Asian Human Rights Commission and Robert F Kennedy for Human Rights, Amnesty International, International Federation for Human Rights, Civicus, World Organisation Against Torture, Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances, Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (Forum-Asia), Asian Network for Free Elections, Capital Punishment Justice Project, and The Advocates for Human Rights.

The UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations is yet to formally respond to the letter. 

On December 5, the UN Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances voiced concerns that “members of RAB would be eligible to participate in UN peacekeeping operations, without any previous investigation into their alleged involvement in the commission of human rights abuses or a thorough vetting process.”

The Working Group also said that officers involved in, or willing to tolerate, abuses “appear to be promoted and rewarded within the Bangladesh security and law enforcement forces,” it said.

In March 2021, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said, “Allegations of torture and ill-treatment by the Rapid Action Battalion have been a long-standing concern.”

In its concluding observations during Bangladesh’s 2019 review of its obligations under the Convention against Torture, the Committee against Torture stated that it is “concerned at reports that personnel that have served with the Rapid Action Battalion have frequently been deployed for service with United Nations peace missions.”

“The deployment of members of the RAB in peacekeeping operations reinforces a message that grave human rights abuses will not preclude one from service under the UN flag and increases the chances of human rights abuses being committed in UN missions,” said Louis Charbonneau, United Nations director at Human Rights Watch.

“The UN should send a clear signal to host and troop-contributing countries that abusive units will not be part of the UN.”

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