The United States has introduced a new visa policy for Bangladesh, aiming to restrict travel permits for individuals involved in undermining the upcoming January 2024 elections in the country. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced this policy under the Immigration and Nationality Act to support Bangladesh’s goal of holding free and fair elections.
The policy allows for visa restrictions on individuals and their immediate family members who are responsible for or complicit in undermining the democratic election process in Bangladesh. This includes current and former Bangladeshi officials, members of political parties, law enforcement agencies, judiciary, and security services.
The policy targets actions such as vote rigging, voter intimidation, violence to prevent freedom of association and peaceful assembly, and measures to restrict the dissemination of views by political parties, voters, civil society, or the media. The Bangladeshi Foreign Minister expressed support for the policy, stating that it strengthens their commitment to ensuring fair elections.
The main opposition party has been advocating for a non-party caretaker government to oversee the elections. The US clarifies that it is not concerned about the participation of any specific party but emphasizes the importance of fair elections.
The visa policy aims to discourage violence by opposition parties and support the government’s commitment to democracy. The US plans to send an observer mission to Bangladesh before the elections.