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ED: Restore people’s faith in the police

  • Published at 08:45 pm October 2nd, 2020
File photo of police officials on duty Mahmud Hossain Opu/Dhaka Tribune

The work of experts will not matter if powerful nations are not willing to put the planet first

It is a sad fact that public trust in the police has eroded in recent years.

Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan at a recent meeting at the police headquarters commented that the pro-active roles of the police in tackling the coronavirus and suppressing militancy were reminiscent of Bangabandhu’s “people’s police.” Indeed, while the police have done a great deal during this pandemic, often at considerable personal risk, the truth is we are a long way off from having the kind of law enforcement that makes the average citizen feel safe.

Law enforcement officers are vested with power, and that power, if not used judiciously, can be abused. In Bangladesh, we hear reports of abuses of power on a regular basis. So much so that incidents of extra-judicial killings, sometimes referred to as “crossfires,” rarely come as surprises.

There need to be checks and balances over the power exercised by police personnel, and there needs to be a strict mechanism to ensure that due process is followed at all times. Power without accountability, after all, can be lethal as we have seen time and time again.

The public would like, then, the home minister’s comments on the police to become a reality. Wishful thinking will not solve the problem, but careful, comprehensive, and strategic reform will. 

To that end, victims of police brutality and injustices should come forward and speak out. This is easier said than done -- out of fear of repercussions, many do not pursue justice when abused at the hands of law enforcement personnel. But a change in police culture has been a long time coming. 

At the end of the day, our economic gains mean little if our basic rights are not safeguarded by the police force.

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