The UK was ‘non-committal’ when Bangladesh raised the issue during the 3rd Dhaka-London strategic dialogue, sources say
The United Kingdom made it known to Bangladesh a “long time ago” that London does not wish to enter into any extradition treaty with Dhaka, a senior diplomat involved in Bangladesh’s engagement with the European nation told the Dhaka Tribune on Wednesday.
The reason behind this stance, as given by the British government, is that the UK does not have extradition treaties with any country.
The issue relating to an extradition treaty between Bangladesh and the UK was raised to public domain recently, after BNP Senior Vice Chairman Tarique Rahman, who has been residing in London since 2008, was convicted in graft cases in 2018.
A senior diplomat at the Bangladesh High Commission in London said Tarique is living in the UK on political asylum, and there are a set of procedures that must be followed in order to repatriate a person with such status.
There are other Bangladeshi nationals living in the UK who are convicts of different criminal acts.
Repatriation of convicted criminals was discussed in the third Bangladesh-UK strategic dialogue held at the state guest house Padma, a meeting source said, adding that the Bangladesh side raised the issue in general.
The UK side appeared to be “non-committal” when Bangladesh raised the issue, said another source.
Asked if Bangladesh ever officially proposed for an extradition treaty, the source said: “When the UK has made it clear that it does not have such a treaty with any country, there is no point in making an official proposal.”
The officials, however, observed that convicted criminals could be brought back to Bangladesh without any extradition treaty if the British judiciary could be convinced.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque led the Bangladesh side in the dialogue, Permanent Undersecretary of British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Sir Simon McDonald headed the UK side.
At the dialogue, the two sides exchanged views on political relations, celebration of the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries, trade and investment, education and skills, good governance and human rights, the future development partnership, migration, security and defence cooperation, and regional and global issues of mutual interest, said a press release issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The issue of finding a durable solution to the Rohingya crisis was discussed with priority at the dialogue.
The meeting began with both sides welcoming the progress made in the Bangladesh-UK bilateral relations. Both sides briefed on their countries’ political developments domestically and internationally.
As fellow Commonwealth members, Bangladesh and the UK stood in solidarity with and condemned the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand and Sri Lanka that claimed scores of innocent lives. The countries agreed to continue to cooperate on security, and counter terrorism and violent extremism to safeguard their citizens and global humanity from this menace.
Both sides stressed the importance of good governance, human rights and media freedom for any functioning democracy and also for Bangladesh’s economic and social development.
The UK expressed its appreciation of Bangladesh hosting over one million forcibly-displaced Rohingya refugees.
Bangladesh welcomed the UK’s efforts in playing a leading role at the United Nations Security Council, and requested the UK to continue global leadership in ensuring international efforts in all facets of the Rohingya crisis, including accountability on Myanmar’s part for the atrocities committed against the Rohingyas.
British Permanent Undersecretary Sir MacDonald highlighted that the UK is the second largest provider of humanitarian assistance to the Rohingyas, and reiterated the UK’s long-term commitment to supporting Bangladesh in its humanitarian response and the voluntary, safe, dignified and sustainable return of the Rohingyas to Myanmar.
Bangladesh also stressed the importance of an efficient mechanism to process UK visa applications submitted by its nationals, particularly students and businessmen.
The UK reiterated its commitment to maintain a high-quality service for Bangladeshi nationals at the visa application centres in Dhaka and Sylhet.
Sir McDonald said the number of visa applicants from Bangladesh is increasing year on year, with an average approval rate of around 70% – up from 61% in 2016.
The UK welcomed Bangladesh’s continued commitment to take back its citizens who no longer have the right to remain in the UK.
The delegates also discussed the issue of the proposed cross-border Higher Education Rules, which, if implemented, will allow UK universities to operate in Bangladesh.
Dhaka also highlighted concerns of the British curry industry, on the shortage of skilled workers and the proposed wage structure as part of the future immigration white paper, whilst recognizing their significant contribution to the British economy.