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 Thursday, 16 January, 2003, 17:52 GMT
Dhaka condemns US entry rules
Demonstrators outside an INS office in the USA
Activists have protested the detention of many visitors
Bangladesh has criticised controversial new US immigration rules under which some of its nationals will have to register in the US.

The registration system applies only to temporary visitors

Mary Ann Peters
US ambassador in Dhaka
The country and four others were added to a list of Muslim and Arab nations on Thursday whose adult males must register with US immigration authorities when making a long-term visit to the US.

Foreign Secretary Shamser Mobin Chowdhury told the BBC he was "not happy" at the move.

The US, meanwhile, has sought to allay Bangladeshi concerns, stressing the limited nature of the new laws.

"The registration system applies only to temporary visitors to the US and does not apply to arriving immigrants, permanent residents and American citizens of Bangladeshi descent," Mary Ann Peters, US ambassador in Dhaka, said in a statement.

Protests

Under a law passed after the September 2001 attacks on the US, all adult men from more than 20 countries are required to report to the Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) by certain dates unless they are permanent US residents.

Mr Chowdhury said his government was surprised at the decision to include Bangladesh as it had been at the forefront of the US-led "war against terror".

Visitors queue outside an INS office
Visitors from many Muslim countries have to register
"We always kept the US informed about the measures we took against international terrorism," he said.

He said he hoped to have dialogue with Washington about the problems the decision could create.

"We hope that it will be a short-lived measure."

Deadlines

US authorities have imposed different deadlines on visitors from different countries.

Reports say that visitors from the new group of countries including Bangladesh will be required to register between 24-28 February.

It is not clear how many Bangladeshis, who are mostly concentrated in the states of New York and California, will be affected.

The biggest group are 14,000 Saudi and Pakistani men above 16 who must report by 21 February.

Both countries are considered US allies and many Pakistanis have demonstrated against the US decision to include their country in the list.

US human rights activists, too, have demonstrated and filed cases against the detention of a large number of people after they reported to the INS.


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16 Jan 03 | Americas
15 Jan 03 | South Asia
10 Jan 03 | Americas
10 Jan 03 | Americas
27 Dec 02 | Americas
20 Dec 02 | Americas
19 Dec 02 | Americas
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