Bangladesh: UNODC's community policing approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism 

Rajshahi and Mymensingh, Bangladesh/16 April 2023: Violent extremism and terrorism continue to pose a significant threat to global security, stability, and human rights. Countering these critical issues requires a comprehensive approach that integrates both law enforcement measures and prevention efforts—by developing national strategies and legal frameworks, enhancing law enforcement and intelligence capabilities, promoting international cooperation and information sharing, and addressing the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to violent extremism. Community policing plays a crucial role in this direction, by involving community members, building trust, and creating an enabling environment for active cooperation and exchange of information.

In Bangladesh, UNODC has partnered with the Anti-Terrorism Unit (ATU) of the Bangladesh Police to promote community-based policing strategies—with focus on improved research, training, national coordination, regional networking, and women-led policing. The project, funded by the Government of Canada, seeks to take a multidimensional approach to preventing radicalization, and provide support for the rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals involved in violent activities.

Two workshops were held in Rajshahi and Mymensingh to identify gaps, challenges, and future interventions in strengthening community and beat policing mechanisms to prevent violent extremism and counter-terrorism in Bangladesh.

The workshops provided a platform for over 100 officials from Bangladesh Police, including the Anti-Terrorism Unit, Community and Beat Policing Unit, police personnel and representatives from both print and electronic media, to discuss ways to strengthen community policing mechanisms.

Through intensive group consultations, participants emphasized the importance of developing effective communication strategies to increase awareness of violent extremism and terrorism among the public. They called for stronger training and capacity-building for community and beat police officers—on identifying and responding to signs of radicalization and extremism, as well as building skills in communication, negotiation, and conflict resolution.

These regional consultations were an important step towards identifying gaps, addressing the challenges and strengthening responses to counter violent extremism and terrorism in Bangladesh.

In recent years, UNODC has been working closely with Bangladesh Police to improve the country's criminal justice system and counter-terrorism capacity. This joint initiative has focused on enhancing the capacity of law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute terrorist activities, strengthening border management, and promoting inter-agency cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts.

This activity contributed to SDG 5 and SDG 16:

(Supported by Global Affairs Canada)