Extrajudicial killings have stopped in Bangladesh following US sanctions

 From Russia to North Korea and Zimbabwe, questions have been raised about the impact of diplomatic sanctions, but Bangladeshi social workers have no doubts.

According to the French news agency AFP, social activists say extrajudicial killings in Bangladesh have abruptly stopped after drastic US measures two months ago.

According to the human rights organization Adhikar, about 2,500 Bangladeshis have reportedly been killed by security forces since Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wajid came to power in 2009.

Adhikar has a detailed record of all these incidents, including the enforced disappearances of hundreds of people.

According to the human rights organization, there have been 1,200 such deaths in the last four years.

However, according to the authority, since Washington imposed sanctions on the Rapid Action Battalion's elite security force, including seven of its top officers, under the Magnetsky Act on December 10 last year, the total death toll has dropped to zero.

Afroza Islam, whose brother went missing eight years ago, said: "If this ban had been imposed much earlier, many lives would have been saved."

The Rapid Action Battalion was formed in 2004 to fight Marxist militants and Islamic extremism, as well as to prevent human trafficking, and achieved its goals mercilessly, according to officials.

Recently, its targets have been a large number of alleged criminals and drug dealers. Bangladeshi officials insist the killings were part of a legal exchange of fire.

However, critics say political opponents have also been killed by security forces.

Afroza Islam's brother Sajjadul Islam Saman was among at least 18 activists affiliated with the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party who were allegedly picked up by Rapid Action Battalion officers during the December 2013 national elections. ۔

According to Afroza Islam, "My mother went to the Rapid Action Battalion headquarters for more than a year because we found out that her officers had arrested her but she never returned."

Regarding the US sanctions, Noor Khan Lytton of the human rights organization said that the US sanctions have directly improved the human rights situation in the country.

"People are happy with it and a lot of people have started talking," he said.

It is to be noted that in some cases, the officers of Rapid Action Battalion have also been punished. In April 2014, at least 26 people, including a commander, were sentenced to death in the central city of Narayanganj for killing seven people.

Dhaka and Washington generally have good relations and both co-operate on security issues.

U.S. sanctions include freezing the assets of former and current Rapid Action Battalion officials and visa bans. Former chief minister Benazir Ahmed, who is now the national chief of police, is also under sanctions.

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