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Bangladesh has had detailed anti-terrorism legislation in place since 2009. Further to a 2013 amendment, the law allows executions for financial crimes of terrorism.

Compliance with International Law:
Last updated: one year ago

The Definition of Terrorism in Domestic Law

Section 6(1) of the 2009 Anti-Terrorism Act (as amended) defines terrorist activities in exceptionally broad terms.

If any person, entity or foreigner--

(a) for the purposes of threatening the unity, integration, public security or sovereignty of Bangladesh by creating panic among the public or a section of the public with a view to compelling the Government or any entity or any person to do any act or preventing them from doing any act–

   (i) kills, causes grievous hurt, confines or kidnaps any person or attempts to do the same, or damages or attempts to damage any property of any person, entity or the State;

   (ii) abets or instigates any person to murder, injure seriously, confine or kidnap any person, or abets or instigates to damage any property of any person or entity or the State; or 

   (iii) damages or tries to damage the property of any other person, entity or the state; or

   (iv) conspires or abets or instigates to damage the property of any other person, entity or the state; or

   (v) uses or keeps in possession any explosive substance, inflammable substance and arms for the purposes of sub-clauses (i), (ii), (iii) and (iv);

(b)  with an intent to disrupt security of or to cause damage to the property of any foreign State, commits or attempts to commit or instigates or conspires or abets an offence mentioned under section 6(1) (a) sub-section (i), (ii), (iii), (iv) or (v);

(c) for creating panic among the public or a section of the public with a view to compelling any international organization to do any act or preventing them from doing any act, commit or attempts to commit or instigates or conspires or abets to commit an offence mentioned under sub-section (i), (ii), and (iii);

(d) knowingly uses or possesses any terrorist property;

(e) abets, instigates, conspires to do or commits or attempts to commit an offence described in the UN conventions included in the Schedule 1 of this Act; 

(f) commits any other act intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to a civilian, or to any other person not taking an active part in the hostilities in a situation of armed conflict, when the purpose of such act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act; then the person, entity or foreigner shall commit the offence of “terrorist activities”.

In the Constitution, the right to freedom of association is curtailed if an association or union is "formed for the purposes of organizing terrorist acts or militant activities against the State or the citizens or any other country".Art. 38, Constitution of Bangladesh.

In its 2017 Concluding Observations on Bangladesh's initial report under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee expressed its concern about 

the use of unclear terminology in counter-terrorism legislation, such as in the Special Powers Act, 1974, which grants the State broad powers of arrest and detention for the vague term “prejudicial acts”, and the broad definition of “terrorist act” in the Anti-Terrorism Act, 2009, which can lend itself to arbitrary and abusive implementation. The Committee is concerned that the anti-terrorism amendment bill of 2012, which amended the Anti-Terrorism Act, increased the penalty for financing terrorism to allow for a maximum punishment of the death penalty. It is also concerned by reports that these laws are used to stifle speech of journalists and human rights defenders.

Adherence to Global and Regional Terrorism Treaties


Bangladesh is a State Party to most of the main treaties at global and regional level.


Adherence to Global Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1973 Convention on Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons State Party
1979 Hostage-Taking Convention State Party
1997 Terrorist Bombings Convention State Party
1999 Terrorist Financing Convention State Party
2005 Nuclear Terrorism Convention State Party

In adhering to the 1999 Terrorist Financing Convention, Bangladesh entered an understanding whereby Its accession "shall not be deemed to be inconsistent with its international obligations under the Constitution of the country".


Bangladesh has also adhered to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Convention on International Terrorism.


Adherence to Regional Terrorism Treaties
Treaty Adherence
1999 OIC Convention on Combating International Terrorism State Party
SAARC Regional Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism Status unknown
2004 Protocol to the SAARC Terrorism Convention Status unknown

Laws and Penalties for Terrorist Offences

The maximum sentence for terrorist crimes in Bangladesh is execution, in accordance with 2012 and 2013 amendments to the 2009 Law. This may be applied not only where a person is killed or seriously injured or kidnapped, but also even in case of certain property damage. In 2019, the UN Committee against Torture called on Bangladesh to carefully review the application of the Anti-Terror Act in the context of the death penalty.  

In its report for 2020, the US Department of State claimed that: "Ongoing deficits in Bangladesh’s judicial system, magnified by the constraints of operating during a global pandemic, contribute to a decade-long backlog of terrorism cases and a conviction rate estimated at less than 15 per cent." The Department of State also observed that Bangladesh’s Anti-Terrorism Act does not outlaw recruitment and travel in the furtherance of terrorism.

Domestic Counterterrorism Capacities and Policies

The Bangladesh Police has had a dedicated Anti-terrorism Unit since 2017. 

The International Crisis Group has recommended that: 

Instead of relying on indiscriminate force, including alleged extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances, the government should adopt a counter-terrorism strategy anchored in reformed criminal justice and better intelligence gathering. Rather than cracking down on rivals, it should forge a broad social and political consensus on how to confront the threat. 


Bangladesh 2009 Anti-Terrorism Act (original)

Bangladesh 2012 Terorrism (Amendment) Act

Bangladesh 2013 Amendment to the Anti-Terrorism Act (original)

Human Rights Committee Concluding Observations on Bangladesh (2017)

Committee against Torture Concluding Observations on Bangladesh (2019)

Crisis Group Countering-jihadist-militancy-in-bangladesh (2018)

Constitution of Bangladesh (Fifteenth Amendment) Act (Constitution of Bangladesh (Fifteenth Amendment) Act (2011)