The number of Bangladeshi policemen going on United Nations (UN) peacekeeping missions has dropped to nearly half over the last four years after the police headquarters decided to not allow any policeman facing criminal or departmental proceeding to participate in missions.
The decision was formalized through a notice from the police headquarters in February 2018 that stated that any official facing departmental proceedings or punitive measures in the last three years could not take the Pre-Selection Assistance and Assessment Team (PRESAAT) test necessary to qualify for UN missions.
A revised notice issued six months later said any official who is facing a criminal case, is under investigation or has faced major punishment at any time in his or her career, cannot participate in the PRESAAT test.
This condition has blocked many officials from taking the PRESAAT test.
While on the face of it the new rule appears justified, many low ranking policemen claimed the rule is specifically designed to deprive them of the opportunity of participate in UN missions.
Low ranking police officials are usually the ones most often subjected to punishment. Officers from the rank of assistant superintendent (ASP) or above usually have no record of punishment.
According to police headquarters sources, a total of 14,315 police constables, assistant sub-inspectors and sub-inspectors faced punishment last year from different convictions.
Of them, 74 were sacked and 600 others were handed out major punishments.
Asking not to be named, a low-ranking police official said: "The new condition was imposed to give high-ranking officials advantage over the subordinates as the former do not have any major or minor punishment records in their service history."
Even police headquarters sources admitted the new condition will barely impact officials of higher ranks as the number of offences recorded against them is so small.
Policemen further claimed many minor offences committed by police members were labelled as major offences.
Requesting anonymity, a police officer who could not apply for the PRESAAT test told The Business Standard: "At the beginning of my 20-year career, I was once punished for delay in sending case dockets to the police super's office. I was preparaing for the PRESAAT test but the new condition has made me ineligible."
The UN desk at the police headquarters said the new condition was imposed in accordance with the UN rules.
But ineligible officials for the PRESAAT test disagreed, saying the UN authorities had not modified the conditions that have been in place for the last 30 years.
Police Headquarters Assistant Inspector General (Media) Sohel Rana however cited a different reason for the drop in number of policemen in UN missions. "The UN has been gradually downsizing its remit of peacekeeping mission operations in the last few years. In line with this, the strength of police contribution is also falling."
"But our police force has quite a big pool of qualified officers eligible for serving in global peacekeeping missions at any time as the UN requires," he told The Business Standard.
Currently, 180 Bangladeshi police officials are with the Formed Police Unit (FPU) in Congo, while there are 280 in Mali and 140 in Darfur. A total of 48 individual police officers (IPOs) are also working in different countries.