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  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: After decades of misuse and neglect, Bangladesh's police are a source of instability and fear rather than a key component of a democratic society. Human rights abuses are endemic and almost all Bangladeshis who interact with the police complain of corruption. With an elected government in place again, there are now opportunities to reform this dysfunctional force. But there are also significant obstacles. If the government fails to move beyond the current modest reform process, the democratic transition could falter should deteriorating security give the military another chance to intervene, using, as it has in the past, the pretext of upholding law and order to justify derailing democracy. Deep structural reforms – including a new police law – and major additional resources are necessary to create an effective and accountable service. Above all, it will take political will – which Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's Awami League-led government is sorely lacking – and a vision of the police as something other than a tool of political control and a source of patronage.
  • Topic: Corruption, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: Bangladesh, Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: On taking office, Thai Prime Min­­ister Abhisit Vejjajiva pledged to reclaim policy on the southern insurgency from the military. But a year of distracting fights between supporters of the establishment and an ousted populist leader has meant little progress in resolving violence in the South. Despite glimpses of new thinking in Bangkok, the weakness of the government and its reliance on the military for political support have meant the top brass still dominates policymaking in the predominantly Malay Muslim South. Harsh and counterproductive laws remain in force and there are no effective checks on abuses by the security forces. Alternative policies have not been seriously explored and, after a temporary reduction in violence in 2008, the attacks are rising again. It is time for the government to follow its words with actions if it wants to move forward with a political solution.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Political Violence, Islam, Sectarianism
  • Political Geography: Asia
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Colombia's efforts to resolve its half-century armed conflict and growing tensions with neighbours will be shaped by the decision on whether to change the constitution to enable President Álvaro Uribe to seek a second re-election in May 2010. This issue has dominated Colombian politics for over a year. Most appear to back a third term, seeing Uribe as the only politician with the credibility and capacity to maintain security gains and broaden economic well-being after August, when his mandate ends. His supporters believe he has demonstrated strong leadership in times of escalating regional tensions, especially with Venezuela and Ecuador. Others fear another change in the constitution and four more years of Uribe's rule will further weaken democratic judicial and legislative institutions and essential checks and balances. They warn that the process of enabling a second consecutive re-election has been plagued by irregularities and allegations of corruption and that a third term could result in continuation of a too narrow security strategy focused on elusive final military defeat of the insurgent FARC and ELN.
  • Topic: Political Violence, Insurgency, Narcotics Trafficking
  • Political Geography: Latin America
  • Publication Date: 12-2009
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: International Crisis Group
  • Abstract: Conflicts among tribes have claimed several thousand lives in South Sudan in 2009, with the worst violence in and around the vast, often impassable state of Jonglei. Violence often afflicts pastoral communities, but in this area it has taken on a new and dangerously politicised character. With the death toll over the past year exceeding that in Darfur and displacement affecting more than 350,000 people, the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) should recognise the primarily local nature of the conflicts, extend state authority and prove itself a credible provider of security lest the problems become major obstacles on the road to self-determination and beyond. International partners must simultaneously step up their support or risk seeing the South become increasing unstable ahead of national elections and the self-determination referendum.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Civil War, Ethnic Conflict, Islam
  • Political Geography: Africa, South Sudan