Bangladesh could limit the role of the military in politics by taking major steps to overhaul its "dysfunctional policing system", which facilitates corruption and human rights abuses, the International Crisis Group said.
The Brussels-based group, in its report "Bangladesh: Getting Police Reform on Track," examined the state of Bangladesh's police and the shortcomings of the current reform process led by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
It concluded the force, which lacks sufficient ethical and professional standards and often flouts the law it is supposed to uphold, is overstretched, underpaid and unable to cope with increasing demands of a modern democratic society.
"Donor efforts to improve police functioning are having only a marginal impact, The ICG report said. "With an elected government in place again, there are new opportunities to ramp up reform."
"The police themselves recognise that they are not up to the job and are urging the government to commit to a deeper reform process", the report quoted Michael Shaikh, Crisis Group's Senior Analyst, saying. "If the government does not listen, the army could step into fill the security gap as it has in the past causing the democratic transition to falter."
Army general had ruled Bangladesh, in uniform or under civilian guise for 15 years until the end of 1990 and still keep a close watch on political matters.
"Underscoring the urgency of root and branch reform was the Bangladesh Rifles (BDR) mutiny in February, which left over 75 dead and prompted fears of another army coup," the report said.
"Mostly due to the government's lack of political will, the UNDP Police Reform Programme does not address the most dire structural problems that enable abuse, corruption, vigilantism and extremism," it added.