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2005-07-14 05:36:00
Embassy Dhaka
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						C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 003342 


E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/12/15

Classified By: P/E Counselor D.C. McCullough, Reason(s): 1.4 (b),(d)

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 003342


E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/12/15

Classified By: P/E Counselor D.C. McCullough, Reason(s): 1.4 (b),(d)

1. (C) Summary: Home Affairs Minister Babar, rebuffing an
appointment with USG Passport officials, stated that
Bangladesh has studied the passport systems of six or seven
countries, hired an American-Bangladeshi consultant to
implement a modern passport system and will float tenders
later in the year for a launch in February 2006. End Summary.

2. (C) On July 10, 2005, Charge d'Affaires (CDA) paid a
courtesy call on Minister of Home Affairs Babar. Resident
Legal Assistant (RLA) was the notetaker for the meeting which
lasted 40 minutes.

3. (C) CDA stated that the U.S. technical team to install
the baseline PISCES Machine Readable Passport and Visa system
could come as early as September. She stated the system had
been improved such that software adaptation, which was
originally discussed, was not necessary. Babar agreed that to
avoid delays, the system would not have to be adapted.

4. (C) CDA offered to set up a meeting with the USG's
Passport Agency for Babar during his visit to Washington D.C.
beginning the week of July 25. Babar did not think this
appointment was necessary because "We have done homework. We
have studied six or seven countries and appointed a
consultant who is an Bangladeshi-American who has consulted
in India and other places. When CDA further pressed for a
meeting with USG passport authorities, Babar responded: "In
two weeks we will make our presentations then float the
tender. We plan to launch the system in February." Babar
rebuffed one more effort by the CDA to set up a meeting in
the U.S. with passport authorities by saying: "The passport
office is not very conversant with our system...I know
everything because (I read the briefings) in my notebooks.
Every week I have studied this." (NOTE: Post continues to
believe that a meeting at the Passport Agency would be

5. (C) Referring to the draft Anti-Terrorism Act which the
Ministry of Home Affairs had passed to Ambassador Thomas
before his departure, CDA stated that government drafters
appeared to have taken the draconian and unpopular Special

Powers Act, which the government promised to repeal, and
inserted it in the new Act. CDA stated that a terrorism act
should not provide cover for a law that deprives people of
their civil rights. Babar defended the inclusion by saying
"we need this law" and pointed to Thailand and Malaysia which
have similar laws as support for his position. He did agree,
however, to CDA's suggestion that RLA could discuss this
issue with the Ministry's Legal Affairs advisor to address
mutual concerns.

6. (C) CDA spoke out against the extra-judicial killings of
alleged criminals which appear to be on the increase. She
stated that these killings have attracted the attention of
the highest levels in Washington. She pointed out that
Bangladesh's desire for respect in its efforts to foster
human rights were being undermined by the deaths. Babar
responded that the government is talking to the police and
the Rapid Action Battalion, which is viewed as the main
perpetrator of the extra-judicial killings, to "be more
careful." He stated, "I don't want to justify it. We are
pressing them not to do these things."

7. (C) He said the RAB actions were popular because the
country's criminal justice system could not handle the case
load. People were frustrated by the liberal bail rules
applied to culprits as well as the seven or eight years it
took to bring a defendant to trial if the charges had not
been dismissed beforehand. He also said that Thailand had
3500 extra-judicial killings.

8. (C) He reminded CDA that A/S Rocca had agreed to provide
capacity building support to law enforcement and was told by
CDA that the list of requests for police assistance during
D/S Burns' visit had been passed to Washington.

9. (C) Other points discussed during the meeting included:

-- The investigation on the August 21 attack on Awami League
leader Sheikh Hasina continues and a few more people will be
arrested. The BDG believes that 7-10 of the culprits are in
Calcutta and Interpol is going to prepare a red notice to
assist in their apprehension. He criticized India for being a
haven for criminals from Bangladesh.

-- Babar stated that he has suspended police officers in
connection with the failure to catch Bangla Bhai. He stated
he has talked to the media to call him personally if they
have any information.

-- On political killings, Babar stated that 70-80% of those
who die in these encounters are members of the ruling party.
He revealed that the Prime Minister has a special committee
that monitors these crimes. He professed that the country
believed in rule of law but was only 30 years old and
couldn't be expected to be as advanced as the United States
which in its early history had "cowboy killings."

-- On the Kibria murder, the CDA stated the USG still wanted
to interview the lead defendant in the case. Since the only
way to do so, after review of the law, was through a court
order, CDA requested that the Ministry assist in this
request. Babar said he would have to think about the public
reaction if a court order were filed. RLA was told to discuss
the issue with one of his joint secretaries.

10. (C) The meeting ended with CDA's expressions of
gratitude for the excellent protective services provided by
the Ministry to which Babar responded that since the London
bombs, security had been doubled.

11. (C) Babar provided no details of his schedule to the
United States except that he hoped to meet with former mayor
Giuliani in New York about law enforcement and was taking his
wife and four children to Orlando to visit Disney World where
other family members living in North America would join them.