Secret US diplomatic cables released by the whistleblower website ‘Wikileaks’ have revealed that British officers have been training Rapid Action Battalion(RAB), a paramilitary force accused by human rights organisations of being a “government death squad” responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in Bangladesh in recent years.
The Guardian quoted one of the cables as saying that the Bangladeshi paramilitary force had begun receiving British training in “investigative interviewing techniques” and “rules of engagement” three years ago under the last Labour government.
Meanwhile, RAB officials have reportedly confirmed that they had taken part in a series of courses and workshops as recently as October, five months after the formation of the coalition government.
In one cable, the US ambassador to Dhaka, James Moriarty, expresses the view that the RAB is the “enforcement organisation best positioned to one day become a Bangladeshi version of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation”, while another one, Moriarty quotes British officials as saying that they have been “training RAB for 18 months in areas such as investigative interviewing techniques and rules of engagement”.
The paper quoted some human rights activists as saying that the RAB has been responsible for over 1,000 extra-judicial killings from the past six years, which they described as “crossfire” deaths.
However, the cables reveal that both the British and the Americans, in their determination to strengthen counter-terrorism operations in Bangladesh, are favouring the force, arguing that the “RAB enjoys a great deal of respect and admiration from a population scarred by decreasing law and order over the last decade”. (ANI)