Military, police better not work together as in Rab: US official

Military, police better not work together as in Rab: US official

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A senior US official has apparently suggested that the military and police had better not work together, as they now do at RAB – but if they have to, there should be adequate oversight and accountability.
The US assistant secretary for narcotics and law enforcement affairs has said it is better for Bangladesh to have a situation where the military performs military mission and police perform police mission.William Brownfield made the remark on a question on Rapid Action Battalion that combined both the forces and is accused of massive human rights violations by rights activists.
Opposition BNP Chairperson Khaleda Zia also echoed some western rights groups and called for disbanding this elite force after some of its members were charged with murder.
Brownfield before leaving Dhaka on Monday after a three-day visit did not make any direct comment on RAB saying he was not the right person to answer questions that are “political or social” in nature.
He, however, gave broad historic and global perspectives before giving a hint that it would be better for Bangladesh if the two forces worked on their own distinct mandates.
“Soldiers are not police. Police are not soldiers. They are trained differently and they are equipped differently.”
But there are exceptions in the world including in his own country.
He said members of the coast guard accompanied the US navy, which is a military force, when they were deployed in waters.
Brownfield said like everywhere in the world, US military did not have the authority to arrest or detain someone that the coast guard can.
He said the US solved the problem by marrying up the two forces in waters so that they can arrest any smugglers or illegal goods carrier and produce them to the US court.
He, however, said history suggested “it should be done as rarely as possible”.
“The best outcome is when police are able to do policing missions and military do military missions.”
“But history also suggests there are times when it is necessary to blend the two when the threat is a combination of criminal activity and terrorists activity.”
The US official said when it happened “it is important that there is adequate oversight and accountability.
He said it is “not unprecedented” to see that two services working together.
“It should be done carefully because it is unfair to ask soldiers to serve as police and just as it is unfair to ask police to serve as soldiers.”
Brownfield suggested drawing a line for them and holding them to account if they crossed the line.
If a member of the police after proper judicatory process was found to have violated the rules or standards of the profession, they can at a minimum be expelled from the profession.
“Once expelled, (they are) subject to the criminal justice system or civil justice system.”
This is the solution to the problem, he said. He, however, said they were no set guidelines to draw that line.
It would vary from society to society as police emerged from the community, from society.
He referred to the ongoing protest in the US where protesters are asking how much policing would be acceptable.
He said a country’s criminal justice system, constitution, government and all other mechanisms would draw that line, “subject to review by the people on a periodic basis”.
“….you will determine where the line is located,” the assistant secretary said. – bdnews24.com

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