Political use of security agencies must stop
A lack of political will to let law enforcement agencies function independently within their mandate is the main reason for the deterioration of law and order situation in the country, former inspector general of police (IGP) Nurul Huda said yesterday.
Political will is also essential for reform in the agencies, he said, referring to the fact that a separate force like Rapid Action Battalion (Rab) would have been unnecessary if the politicians in power had invested in scientific investigation and trained police to solve crimes and prepare strong cases leading to conviction.
The issue of reform and the need for different security agencies with overlapping mandates featured in a roundtable on the rule of law at the capital's Lakeshore Hotel, organised by the Institute of Conflict, Law and Development Studies (ICLDS).
Huda, who also headed the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), viewed that the Bangladesh police was equally capable as Britain's. "Politicians should think twice before they talk about seeking FBI or Scotland Yard's help to solve criminal cases in our country," he said, calling such a practice "shameful" for a sovereign nation.
"An armed police car is less essential than a forensic laboratory. We need budget allocations for such scientific investment in the force," he added.
Both Huda and former election commissioner Brig Gen (retd) M Shakhawat Hossain stressed the need for merit-based recruitment in the law enforcement agencies. Hossain recommended de-politicisation of the police force and all other security agencies.
He also emphasised that political interference in investigation be stopped.
Instead of calling for abolishing the Rab, as demanded by the BNP against the backdrop of the alleged role of some of its members in the recent killing of seven people in Narayanganj, most speakers stressed its reform.
"Members of the Rab come from different forces. Is there enough coordination among its members who trained differently in their respective forces?" asked Information Commissioner Sadeka Halim, highlighting the need for the force's reform.
Businessperson and former Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Anisul Huq said, "No reform would work unless the political mindset changes. Politicians must come to agree that they won't use violence for political gains."
Referring to the rule of law, barrister Tania Amir, moderator of the discussion, highlighted the need for judicial reform which includes providing proper incentives to the underpaid public prosecutors.
Maj Gen (retd) Md Abdur Rashid, executive director of the ICLDS, read out the concept paper of the roundtable at the beginning of the programme.