The Social and Cultural Committee of the National Assembly (NA) presented the Third Reading of the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021 in the National Assembly (NA), and the committee has proposed around 30 sections for amendment.
The House has rejected a few of the committee’s recommendation while some of the recommendations were supported. The Bill will go to National Council (NC) in next session, and accordingly the adoption of Bill will take place.
One of the Social and Cultural Committee members, MP Ugen Tenzin, said that it has been 12 years that the RBP Act 2009 was not amended, and with lots of developmental activities taking place in the country and within the institution, they felt the need to amend the Act, which would benefit both the institution and the personnel.
The committee has proposed for the amendment also to address various issues on benefits of the personnel among all the three armed force agencies, retirement age, salaries and other relevant issues.
He said, “Of the various sections, we felt delinking the fire and prison division from RBP was one important issue that we have discussed. The police does all the investigation and also looks after the prison. So, that was one issue raised during the consultation meeting.”
When it comes to fire, he said that police does not have a sufficient budget, equipment and manpower to address the issue. He further said that it is not their primary role to provide fire and prison services.
Therefore, the House debated on the two matters, whereby, it was seen that delinking the two divisions would entail establishing a separate division each under a proper management.
He said, “The committee has visited prisons in the country, and we have proposed if we can have separate space for drug related convicts, and that is also being discussed in the House.”
However, the House did not support to institute a separate fire division, prison services division and Youth Development and Rehabilitation Center.
The committee chair, Wamrong’s MP Karma Thinley, said that the committee has proposed for the amendment with an objective to make the police force better, more compact and professional.
He said, “We think we know everything about armed personnel and the institution, but we do not know in detail as we use it as management principle. That is why our recommendations came around organizational development and structure.”
All the sections are equally important and though the discussions were critical, it brought into the public domain how important the institution is and through the Parliament, he said, that they are trying to bring in some changes.
Police were trained in law and order, but not in fighting fire, however, he said, “Being in a small society they are carrying out extra mandates. So, there was a debate on the need of separate division for fire.”
Likewise, he said that section on including lady officers in the police service board, power to prosecute, power to take samples, police investigation, non-interference in criminal investigation, grading of mutiny with violence and service benefit and allowances were also discussed.
Meanwhile, the House rejected the committee’s recommendation on adding new sub section under section 95 of the Act, whereby the committee under the Test Identification Parade had recommended that ‘a witness to a crime shall not be interrogated in the presence of the suspect’.
However, the recommendations were rejected as most of the members said that the existing clauses would suffice to protect the witnesses and victims.
The House supported the proposal of the committee on duties of the RBP to detect cases, identify offenders and where appropriate, apprehend offenders, investigate and forward the cases to OAG for prosecution.
The House directed the committee to review section 16 A in consultations with the Ministry of Hone and Cultural Affairs and report back to the House next week.