One statutory provision applies to the State Department and the other applies to the Department of Defence.
The State Department Leahy law was made permanent under section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961.
Asked whether Bangladesh is going to sign any agreement with the US on that front, the foreign secretary said it is not about signing any agreement separately but kind of expressing Bangladesh’s consent through a framework to keep ongoing engagements smooth and strengthen the future engagements.
He said the US wants a reply in a plain format but Bangladesh wants to reply keeping its safeguards, including a provision of prior consultation if there is any complaint against any organisation so that necessary steps can be taken beforehand.
The US also wants credible information and in that case Bangladesh would like to know the sources of credible information.
If prior consultation is ensured before taking any decision, Bangladesh will get sufficient time to explain its position, said the foreign secretary.
He said Bangladesh is continuing its consultations with various stakeholders on how the US assistance will be used in the future and securitising the benefits to get engaged under the 1961 US law and checking whether there is anything conflicting.
The foreign secretary further said the two countries share the same goals as Bangladesh maintains zero tolerance to heinous crimes and terrorism with its strong commitment to human rights issues.
The US government considers torture, extrajudicial killing, enforced disappearance, and rape under colour of law as GVHRs when implementing the Leahy law.
Incidents are examined on a fact-specific basis. The State Department Leahy law includes an exception permitting resumption of assistance to a unit if the Secretary of State determines and reports to Congress that the government of the country is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.
In the first week of December, the US sent a letter to Bangladesh seeking Bangladesh’s response by 15 December. Later, Bangladesh sought time till 31 December to reply.
Officials of the ministries, departments and agencies concerned were present at the meeting.
Earlier, diplomatic sources said, on 1 December the US had issued a letter to Bangladesh stating that if it wanted to continue receiving aid, it would have to sign a deal under the Leahy Laws. It also said that Bangladesh would have to inform them by 15 December whether they would sign the deal or not. They also wanted to know where and how Bangladesh was using the assistance.
Bangladesh is taking the matter of receiving or not receiving this assistance seriously, in the backdrop of the US slapping sanctions on RAB and seven of its former and incumbent officers on 10 December for human rights violations.