Bangladesh: Terrorism on-board aircrafts and ships - working with the Government to address challenges  

Over the past years, the world has witnessed a large number of terrorist acts involving aircrafts, airports, ships and seaports. Passengers, crew members and security personnel alike are constantly reminded of the serious threat that terrorism poses to human and national security.  Out of the 19 international instruments against terrorism, 12 specifically address acts committed against the safety of air and maritime navigation, fixed platforms located on the continental shelf, and acts of violence against persons on board an aircraft, vessel or a fixed platform.  It is therefore imperative that member states understand the importance of these international conventions and work towards incorporating their provisions into national law.

In this regard, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime in collaboration with the Government of Bangladesh, held a national workshop on the 'Promotion and implementation of transport related counter-terrorism international legal instruments' in April 2015 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. 

The workshop aimed at enhancing awareness and practical knowledge on the relevant international conventions. It also focused on incorporating the international counter terrorism instruments related to civil aviation and maritime security into domestic legislation. Bangladesh has ratified 7 out of the 12 international instruments. 

Officials from the Department of Shipping (DoS) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) presented the existing domestic legal framework on maritime security and civil aviation respectively, and the framework of national regulatory bodies responsible for safety and security of maritime and air navigation. One of the main challenges highlighted by national experts and participants was that while references to the ratified conventions have been made in domestic acts, specific offences or acts of unlawful interference, jurisdiction, powers and obligations of states under these international conventions are not provided for. This renders the investigation and prosecution of these offences highly challenging. Therefore, a separate comprehensive national law related to civil aviation and maritime security is needed.

International experts explained the international legal instruments on transport - related terrorism, including the 2010 Beijing Instruments and the 2014 Montreal Protocol, as well as the 2005 Suppression of Unlawful Acts Convention. During the workshop, international experts and national officials also shared experiences and good practices on responding to new and emerging threats to the safety of air and maritime navigation. Participants highlighted the main aspects and challenges related to the incorporation of the maritime and civil aviation instruments into national legislation and the need for related legal assistance, as well as an opportunity to learn of best practices from neighbouring countries from the region. 

Recommendations that emerged included: (i) incorporation of international conventions on transport related offences into domestic law, (ii) enforcement of legal and regulatory measures within private sector operators including private airlines, (iii)  inclusion of trainings as well as curriculum development on transport related offences with civil aviation and maritime crime academies, (iv) strengthening national investigation and prosecutorial expertise and (v) addressing the weaknesses in capacities in human resources and logistical matters.

The workshop was attended by Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs, Shipping, Civil Aviation, Law and Justice, Office of the Attorney General, customs officials, coast/port guards and border guards as well as Representatives from criminal justice agencies. 


The workshop was conducted under the UNODC Global Project titled: "Strengthening the legal regime against terrorism", with financial support from the United States of America.