Examining Bangladesh’s law enforcement role in global peacekeeping

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Bangladesh, UN

A popular quote in the discipline of law states that “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Last year in a news reports, law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh have been accused of illegally using their power under the political government to support specific groups or interests. Such conduct should alarm society as a whole, as it violates democratic values and human rights.

Law enforcement agencies are designed to ensure public safety and hold criminals accountable for their actions. According to social contract theory, individuals within a state implicitly agree to cede some of their liberties to the state in return for the protection of their remaining rights. These agencies are the state’s troops, empowered with the authority ceded by the people in exchange for their protection.

Since independence, Bangladesh has experienced a myriad of political upheavals, calamitous occurrences, and widespread societal chaos. It is noteworthy that the bureaucracy and law enforcement agencies have consistently demonstrated their unwavering commitment to serving the nation without fail. Bangladeshi soldiers have even earned global praise for their long history of bravery and sacrifice during peacekeeping operations.

Donald Lu, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, praised the overall performance of Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies during his visit last month. Notably, there have been a minimal number of extrajudicial killings or alleged disappearances in the last three years after that sanction. However, recent news about UN peacekeeping operations and the participation of Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies has sparked hesitancy among the country’s population.

The country’s law enforcement agencies provide services to the UN peacekeeping mission by adhering to their guidelines and structures. Before participating in UN missions, troops must go through the UN’s well-established human rights screening procedure. There is no evidence that Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies have ever broken the UN peacekeeping code during operations. Moreover, there is no policy within a UN mission that prohibits law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh from participating in peacekeeping missions.

This situation represents a form of discrimination against those who have been actively involved in the country’s fight against terrorism. Political motivation drives the exclusion of individuals who have risked their lives to combat terrorism, citing grave human rights concerns. Thus, the report completely contradicts UN policy.

The media’s role in this matter is questionable. Media outlets often remain biased for political gain, spreading news that serves their agendas. They are putting the country’s law enforcement agencies on trial, fostering a culture of hasty judgment without a thorough understanding of the facts, and disseminating these judgments through networks in a manner that could quickly become viral without proper balance.

It is essential to recognize that a hasty trial or judgment cannot yield accurate outcomes. The UN provides proper rules and regulations for participation in the UN peacekeeping mission. If certain law enforcement agencies violate any existing rule, we should absolutely question their participation. However, until there is concrete evidence of such violations, it is unfair to cast aspersions on the entire body of law enforcement personnel who have otherwise been committed to their duties.

The commitment of Bangladeshi law enforcement to peacekeeping missions is not a recent phenomenon. Since 1988, Bangladesh has been one of the largest contributors to UN peacekeeping operations. Bangladeshi peacekeepers have served in some of the most volatile regions of the world, often putting their lives on the line to maintain peace and security. Their contributions have been recognized and appreciated globally, with many Bangladeshi peacekeepers earning medals and accolades for their bravery and dedication.

Despite the recent controversies, it is crucial to acknowledge the historical context and the longstanding commitment of Bangladeshi law enforcement agencies to both national and international peacekeeping efforts. The allegations of misconduct should be thoroughly investigated, but they should not overshadow the decades of service and sacrifice made by these individuals.

Moreover, the accusations should be contextualized within the broader geopolitical and domestic political landscape. Bangladesh, like many other countries, faces internal and external pressures that influence its law enforcement and military policies. The international community, including the UN, must engage with Bangladesh constructively, providing support and guidance rather than blanket exclusions that may be politically motivated.

The role of the media in shaping public perception cannot be overstated. Responsible journalism requires a balanced approach, presenting facts without bias and avoiding sensationalism. The media should focus on investigative reporting that seeks the truth rather than pushing a particular political agenda. By doing so, they can help build a more informed and engaged public, capable of critically assessing the actions of their law enforcement agencies and holding them accountable without prejudice.

The international community, particularly organizations like the United Nations, must also play a constructive role. Instead of imposing blanket bans or exclusions based on unverified allegations, a more collaborative approach is necessary. This includes offering technical support, human rights training, and capacity-building initiatives to help law enforcement agencies in Bangladesh align with international standards.

Furthermore, the government of Bangladesh has a responsibility to ensure that its law enforcement agencies operate within the bounds of law and respect for human rights. This includes establishing transparent mechanisms for accountability and oversight. An independent judiciary, effective internal review processes, and cooperation with international human rights bodies can help build trust both domestically and internationally.

Public confidence in law enforcement is crucial for maintaining social order and stability. Efforts must be made to bridge the gap between the authorities and the citizens they serve. Community policing initiatives, public awareness campaigns, and engagement with civil society organizations can foster a sense of shared responsibility and cooperation.

The recent controversies surrounding Bangladeshi law enforcement’s participation in global peacekeeping missions highlight the need for a balanced and informed approach. While it is crucial to investigate and address any allegations of misconduct, it is equally important to recognize and honor the longstanding commitment and sacrifices of Bangladeshi peacekeepers. The media, the international community, and the public must work together to ensure that justice is served without compromising the integrity and honor of those who have dedicated their lives to maintaining peace and security. Responsible journalism, constructive international engagement, and transparent government oversight are key to preserving the integrity of law enforcement agencies and ensuring their continued contribution to global peacekeeping efforts.

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