The withdrawal of extra security facilities for six foreign envoys in Dhaka will not strain Bangladesh’s relations with their countries, a senior official believes.
Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen faced questions from journalists at the Foreign Service Academy on Tuesday, a day after police withdrew an extra car from the security detail of heads of six foreign missions in Dhaka, citing a staffing shortage.
“I don’t think so,” he said when a reporter asked whether the decision would impact ties with those countries. “We may know it in the days to come.”
“But we don’t think our bilateral relations will be affected. Many substantive elements are related to bilateral ties while this matter [security of foreign diplomats] is related to protocol.”
He also said the Bangladesh government would not compromise security for foreign missions and their heads. “I can reassure them that we will never compromise the basic security for the embassies and the ambassadors following the basic obligations we have as a state,” he said. “And we have kept an alternative. We’ve been preparing the Ansar Battalion for a long time.”
Bangladesh Police provide personnel in two cars escorting the foreign mission chiefs. The cars of envoys from important countries like the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and India had a third vehicle as an extra facility provided by the police.
A police spokesman on Monday said they withdrew the third car from the security detail of these diplomats due to a shortage of personnel. This unit came into play if a member of the police fell ill or if the car had a breakdown.
The other measures under Dhaka Metropolitan Police’s Diplomatic Securities Division have not changed.
The foreign ministry clarified the development in a statement, saying it noticed “misleading” information about foreign diplomats.
It said the home ministry has been training a group of Ansar personnel for the security of the diplomats as some embassies have been demanding equal facilities for all of them.
If a foreign diplomat seeks extra Ansar personnel for their security, they can have the facilities at their own cost, the ministry said.
Vedant Patel, a spokesperson for the US Department of State, later reminded Bangladesh of the obligations of a host country to ensure the security of foreign missions and diplomats.
“I’m not going to get into the specifics about security details concerning the US embassy or its personnel. But I will note that per the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, any host country must uphold its obligations to ensure the protection of all diplomatic mission premises and personnel and take all appropriate steps to prevent any attack on personnel,” he said at a regular briefing on Monday.
“The safety and security of our diplomatic personnel and facilities are of the utmost importance,” he said.
Secretary Masud said the basic security facilities for the mission premises and the diplomats were unchanged. “Therefore, we are respectful of the responsibilities under the Vienna Convention as the host country.”
He said the foreign missions in Bangladesh would be formally informed about the Ansar Battalion within two days.
Masud added the government did not notify the embassies or high commissions of the withdrawal of the extra security facilities, which he said were mainly deployed to clear traffic. The ministry did not give any notice nor did it receive any request to use the extra facilities, according to him.
“They were given the extra facilities at a time when there were fears of militancy gaining ground in Bangladesh. Later, it became a mere unit to clear traffic. So, the security measures have remained unchanged.”