US doesn’t disclose visa restrictions against anybody: Miller

Spokesperson Mathew MillerUS state department

The US does not disclose visa restrictions as a policy. However, it discloses restrictions in other areas. The US also opposes restrictions on human rights at the same time. US state department spokesperson Mathew Miller said this in response to a question during a regular press briefing on Monday local time.

A newsperson in the press briefing said that a massive protest is ongoing in Bangladesh. The government is carrying out attack on peaceful processions of the oppositions demanding resignation of the prime minister. The law enforcements are checking the cellphones of the opposition parties and internet service is being shut down during their programmes. Opposition leaders are being sued and arrested in different cases. Even the deceased are not being spared from the cases. In this context, will the US impose visa restriction on people who are obstructing the democratic process and breaching human rights in Bangladesh ahead of the national election?

In response, Mathew Miller said, “So, as a policy, we don’t preview visa restrictions any more than we preview any other sanctions actions, as I’ve said in response to questions about other sanction authorities previously in this briefing.”

He further said, “But as secretary Blinken made clear when he issued the policy on 24 May, these visa restrictions would apply to anyone who undermines the democratic election process in Bangladesh.  Actions that constitute undermining the democratic election process include vote rigging, voter intimidation, the use of violence to prevent people from exercising their rights to freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and the use of measures designed to prevent political parties, voters, civil society, or the media from disseminating their views.”

Mathew Miller was also asked, “In Bangladesh, human rights defenders are being subject to threats, harassment, and prosecution from state and non-state actors.  According to recent reports of the Centre for Governance Studies, some 86 per cent of the human rights defenders face various obstructions and obstacles. Finance control is another weapon in government’s hands as their regulatory body - NGO Affairs Bureau - is under the prime minister’s office. So many international aid recipient organisations have been affected. Rights workers are not getting their paychecks, as I heard from the ground. Do you think it is concerning for the US as the largest development partner of Bangladesh?”

Mathew Miller replied, “I would say that we, as a general rule, support everyone’s ability to freely exercise their role in a democratic society. We oppose any restrictions on human rights, and I don’t have any further specific comment than that.”