Police Reform: Chittagong Hill Tracts Peace Accord (CHT)

B) Hill DISCRICT LOCAL GOVT. COUNCIL / HILL DISTRICT COUNCILS

24. a. By amendment of sub-section (1) of section 62- this section shall be made as follows: "Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act for the time-being in force, all members of the rank of Sub-Inspector and below of Hill District Police shall be appointed by the Council in manner laid down by regulations and the Council may transfer and take disciplinary action against them as per procedure laid down by regulation: provided that in the matter of such appointment tribals shall be given priority".

b. By repealment of the words "on the provision of all other laws for the time-being in force" placed in the second line of sub-section (3) of section 62 shall be placed the words "as per rule and regulation".

34. The following subjects shall be added in the functions and responsibilities of the Hill District Council:

a. Police (local)

Implementation History

1998

No Implementation

Gaining control over the Bengali dominated police force in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) was a major objective of the Jumma leaders in the 1997 Accord. Reports and press statements from the Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (English: United People's Party of the Chittagong Hill Tracts), or PCJSS, were clear that the purpose of the police reform provision in the 1997 Accord was to establish a local CHT district police force that better reflected the ethnic composition of the CHT and Jumma communities. 

Two significant changes were brought about by the Accord. The first change was to remove the word “assistant” from the original legislation which read “assistant Sub-Inspector and below”, thereby increasing the power of the Council to hire and fire at the level of Sub-Inspector and below. This detail would, presumably, include the majority of the police force (i.e., all the rank and file as well as intermediate management).

The second change called for by the Accord regarded the ethnic composition of the CHT police force. The original legislation governing the CHT police force gave the Council various powers “[P]rovided that the ratio amongst tribal, non-tribal and various other tribal people of the district in the matter of such appointment has to be maintained as far as practicable.”1 In other words, the government included language that not only prevented preferential policies in hiring for tribal residents, but stipulated that current ethnic group ratios in the CHT police force had to be maintained. In essence, this meant preserving the Bengali dominance of the CHT police force. Amendment 24 of the 1997 CHT Accord did away with this language, giving the Council the power to hire and fire members of the police force “provided that in the matter of such appointment tribals (sic) shall be given priority."2

Act no. IX of 1998 added text from section 24 of the CHT Peace Accord to section 62 of the original Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989. Section 62 now reads:

"62. District Police. (1) Notwithstanding anything contained in any Act for the time being in force, all members of the rank of Sub-Inspector and below thereof of Rangamati Hill District Police shall be appointed by the Council in a manner laid down by regulations and the Council may transfer and take disciplinary action against them as per procedure laid down by regulations: Provided that with regard to such appointment the preference shall be given to the tribal candidates of Rangamati Hill District. (2) The terms and conditions of service of all the officers and members of the District Police, appointed by the Council, and their training, uniform, duties, responsibilities and administration shall be the same as those of the other District Police, and all the laws relating to these matter as applicable to the district police shall, subject to provisions of sub-section (1) be applicable to them as well. (3) The officers and members of all ranks of the Rangamati Hill District Police shall, subject to provisions of all other relevant laws with necessary additions, be responsible to the Council in the matter of discharging their duties and responsibilities."

If implemented, these changes would have brought sweeping power to a Jumma controlled CHT police force. The first of the two phrases increased the power of the Council in hiring and firing police employees, while the second stipulated that tribal residents be given preference in hiring as opposed to maintaining the current ratios for all ethnic groups. The third reiterated that the administration of the police in the CHT was to be transferred to the Councils. In time, these policy changes would be expected to produce a police force populated mostly by tribal residents. At the very least, the percentage of the CHT police force that was tribal would better reflect the group’s proportion of the total population of the CHT (around 50 percent at the time).

There were no developments by the government in 1998 to transfer the administration of the CHT police force over to tribal authorities.

  • 1. "Amended Rangamati Hill District Council Act of 1989 (Act 19 of 1998)," accessed October 3, 2012.
  • 2. Ibid.
1999

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2000

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2001

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2002

No Implementation

 Writing in 2002, Chowdhury stated that, “Though this provision has been included in the Hill District Council Acts, relevant power according to this provision has not been transferred to Hill District Councils.”3

  • 3. Bushra Hasina Chowdhury, “Building Lasting Peace: Issues of the Implementation of the Chittagong Hill Tracts Accord,” (unpublished manuscript for the Program in Arms Control, Disarmament, and International Security, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2002).
2003

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2004

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2005

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2006

No Implementation

No developments observed this year.

2007

No Implementation

According to an 2011 PCJSS report, “[T]he higher authorities of the police continue to exercise this power as before…Nothing has been done in giving priority to the Jumma people in appointment of police forces of the CHT as per the CHT Accord and HDC Acts.”

The government maintained that they followed the Accord and hired 671 Jummas as police constables. However, these recruits were stationed outside of the CHT. The PCJSS stated that, “per the provision of the CHT Accord, 671 Jumma people were recruited as Police Constable and 11 other as Traffic Sergeant (sic) and posted in the plain districts (outside CHT Hill districts) of Bangladesh.” The Regional Council made many requests to have the 671 Jumma that had been sent to stations in the hostile Bengali dominated plains districts transferred back to the CHT, but these requests went unanswered or were denied. Subjected to untold racial abuse, harassment, and discrimination, most of the 671 Jumma police stationed in the plains districts resigned, some who were forced to do so after complaints were lodged against them.4

  • 4. “Report on the Implementation of the CHT Accord,” PCJSS, 2011, accessed December 13, 2012.