Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen announced that ambassadors from six countries, namely the United States, the United Kingdom, India, and Saudi Arabia, will no longer receive additional security escort services. This decision, according to Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen, was made with the intention of no longer providing the extra security measures to ambassadors.
You can also read: Transforming Geopolitical Dynamics: Moving beyond the China-US rivalry
However, the Minister also mentioned that if any country deems it necessary, they have the option to hire such services independently. The minister shared this information with The Business Standard on Monday, May 15th.
According to officials, certain ambassadors had been granted additional security services as a special consideration, a privilege not extended to envoys from other countries. However, due to prevailing economic circumstances, the Foreign Minister explained to reporters that various austerity measures must be implemented. Consequently, it is no longer feasible to continue providing extra security facilities to ambassadors.
In the evening, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Public Relations Officer issued a statement addressing this matter. It stated that during a phone conversation with a journalist, Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen declared that no additional security escorts would be provided to foreign ambassadors at the expense of the government or taxpayers’ money. The statement highlighted the favourable law and order situation in the country and affirmed that no Bangladeshi ambassador abroad receives supplementary security provisions.
Nevertheless, foreign diplomats have the option to engage personal escorts at their own expense. In such cases, they may enlist the services of the Ansar battalion by covering the associated costs. Minister Momen emphasised that these services can be acquired through payment, reiterating the government’s decision not to allocate extra security resources using taxpayers’ money.
Not all diplomats get same security
In addition to the previous statements, the Foreign Minister highlighted that the provision of additional security services was initially extended to around 5-6 countries. However, an increasing number of countries have recently requested the same benefit. Despite these requests, the government has decided not to provide the service to any country due to concerns of discrimination. The minister emphasised that no other countries offer such privileges to Bangladeshi ambassadors posted abroad, further justifying the decision.
The Foreign Minister firmly stated that there has been no deterioration in the law and order situation within Bangladesh that would warrant the need for additional security for ambassadors. He clarified that the country does provide security services to specific individuals, but it is not necessary or justified to extend it to everyone. The minister highlighted the current demands for security forces in overseeing critical infrastructure projects such as the Padma Bridge and Metro rail.
Minister Momen shared that some ambassadors have expressed their appreciation for these projects and even expressed a preference for not having police escorts accompanying them during their travels. This indicates that they feel secure and confident in the overall safety of the country.
The Home Minister, Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal, echoed the sentiment of not providing extra security to any foreign ambassador. He stated that if there is a genuine need for such security, it should be officially requested through the government. However, there has been no decision made regarding the use of national flags on ambassadorial vehicles.
Ansar to provide security
In regard to the security arrangements for VIPs and VVIPs, the Home Minister clarified that the Guard Regiment, composed of Ansar personnel, will assume responsibility for their protection, while the police will be allocated to other duties.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Deputy Commissioner of Media and Public Relations, Faruk Hossain, assured that ambassadors will continue to receive comprehensive security measures. The only change currently implemented is the removal of an additional vehicle from their protocol during movements. However, the police security cars positioned in front of and behind the ambassadors’ vehicles will remain unchanged.
Faruk Hossain also explained that the extra vehicle was previously utilised as a backup in case a security officer fell ill or encountered vehicle issues. However, due to manpower and vehicle shortages in other police departments, this decision has been temporarily taken.
According to the Vienna Code of Conduct for Diplomats, the host country is obligated to adhere to certain guidelines. When approached regarding the reduction of security, the US Embassy in Dhaka stated that the safety and security of their diplomats and infrastructure are of utmost importance. The embassy spokesperson, Sean McIntosh, mentioned that the security details of US embassies are not disclosed in accordance with their longstanding policy. However, the host country bears the responsibility of ensuring the protection of diplomatic missions and diplomats.
The Dhaka Metropolitan Police, facing a manpower shortage, made the decision not to provide additional security to some diplomatic missions. Instead, Ansar members will be assigned to ensure their protection, as stated by the police spokesperson during a media briefing on Monday evening.
Furthermore, an official from the Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Diplomatic Security Division confirmed that the extra security protocol has been withdrawn from various embassies and commissions since Saturday. Nonetheless, the Commissioner of DMP emphasised that this change does not imply a weakening of their security measures.
The Commissioner also noted that envoys from countries including the USA, the UK, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, China, Australia, and others utilize police personnel during their movements.