The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) works to keep Americans safe at home by countering international crime, illegal drugs, and instability abroad. INL helps countries deliver justice and fairness by strengthening their police, courts, and corrections systems. These efforts reduce the amount of crime and illegal drugs reaching U.S. shores.
Challenges: Over the past two decades, Bangladesh has achieved some remarkable successes in key socio-economic development indicators. Porous borders, poor service delivery, and weak rule of law, however, are challenges that transnational and domestic terrorists, as well as traffickers in people, arms, and narcotics have used for their advantage. In 2016, the Holey Artisan Bakery terrorist attack shocked the nation. The 2017 influx of Rohingya refugees into Cox’s Bazar created a new demand for law enforcement services to protect the vulnerable population from exploitation by criminal organizations. In late 2018, the Awami League won its third consecutive term but the general election was marred by irregularities.
Goals: U.S. assistance supports programs for Bangladeshi civilian security and law enforcement counterparts to build its capacity to counter transnational crime and terrorism. INL programs promote rule of law through encouraging criminal justice reform to deliver more efficient and fair justice to Bangladeshi citizens. INL aims to enhance public confidence and trust in the police with the goal of developing a more professional and community-oriented police service, and to build capacity in the prosecutorial service and the courts.
Accomplishments: Since 2011, the Department of Justice International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program (ICITAP) community-policing program has trained approximately 19,000 law enforcement officials from around the country, approximately half of which were basic and in-service cadets at the Bangladesh Police Academy. The Bangladesh National Police have adopted many practices that enhance their ability to meet the needs of their communities. Initiatives include the creation of community forums, neighborhood beat policing, creation of women’s shelters, and the integration of arson investigation and more modern defensive tactics courses into the police curricula.
Since 2013, INL has diversified its law enforcement programming to include a K-9 advisory project for the Dhaka Metropolitan Police and a new border security project to counter trafficking in persons. The Department of Justice’s Office of Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT) has trained over 300 Bangladeshi prosecutors from Dhaka, Chittagong, Khulna, Sylhet, and Barisal in trial advocacy skills. OPDAT also played a key role in the passage of the Anti-Terrorism Act, the Money Laundering Prevention Act, and the Mutual Legal Assistance Act- three of the most important tools for fighting terrorism and transnational crime.