Access to justice

‘Can I Get a Witness’: evidentiary and procedural issues that delay the administration of justice in Bangladesh

25 Nov 2015

"Justice delayed is justice denied” – William E. Gladstone The effective delivery of justice in any given system requires the smooth-functioning of courts and the competent management of cases by all actors involved. A weak link in this justice chain could very easily cause fragmentation of the entire system, leading to low confidence in the formal justice system and injustice. The dire state of affairs has arguably been reached in Bangladesh where the disposal time can extend to 10 years in land cases and litigants lose an average daily income of USD 5.4 (Tk. 428) needlessly attending court through an average of 60 adjournments; it is estimated that the average litigants spends an average of USD 1500 pursuing a case through the formal system which dramatically impacts the accessibility of this system given  almost half the population (43.3%) continue to live below USD 1.25 a day. The UNDP has been working to address some of these problems through projects supported by the Supreme Court to try and address the case backlog which is estimated at 2.86 million, and has partnered with the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to try and foster greater communication, cooperation, and coordination amongst justice system … Read more

Sisters Doin' It for Themselves

01 Nov 2015

The women of the Berra Women’s Community Policing Forum. Photo - UNDPThe women of the Berra Women’s Community Policing Forum. Photo - UNDP
The challenges in increasing access to justice for women in Bangladesh can seem daunting. In all spheres of contemporary Bangladeshi life, women still face discrimination, exclusion, and injustice and have negligible influence in decision-making processes. Their inferior status can be traced to the patriarchal values entrenched in society, which keep women subjugated, assigns them a subordinate and dependent role, and, prevents them from accessing power and resources. Men hold the power and resources within families and control most of the property and family income. Women are still often considered as men’s property, with their sexual activity, income and labour being systematically controlled by the men in their family. Although women are increasingly joining the workforce (particularly in areas such as garment production), social expectations of women still pivot around child rearing and household management. Widespread violence against women also contributes to their social vulnerability and prevents them from fully participating in society; it has been reported that 87 per cent of currently married women have experienced physical violence by their current husband and more than 40 per cent of women on average indicated that they had first forced sex at age 14 and below by non-partners.  In spite of these alarming … Read more

Transforming towards digitalization of Bangladesh Judiciary

09 Jul 2015

Releasing of Timely Justice for All in Bangladesh-Business Process Mapping Publication by the Hon’ble Chief Justice of Bangladesh in the workshop.
A well-functioning judiciary is a crucial determinant of a country's economic performance. It promotes efficient production and distribution of goods and services by securing, among other things, the enforcement of contracts. Conversely, weak contract enforcement could lead firms adopting inefficient technologies (for example those that minimise dependence on other firms), with detrimental effects on productivity. It is widely understood that a judiciary effective in enforcing the rule of law would not only be conducive to trade, financing and investment but would also promote social peace and trust. However, judicial systems, particularly in developing countries, continue to suffer from inefficiencies that have a negative impact on socio-economic well-being. Commonly faced lacunae in judicial performance include (a) length of time it takes for cases to be disposed; (b) uncertainty in the progress of judicial proceedings; and (c) difficulty for the common man to access judicial services, particularly related to the cases she/he is concerned with or is a party to. In this backdrop caseflow management as an approach to keep track of cases and ensure their smooth passage through allocation of most appropriate time and resources forms the very backbone of the judicial system. Caseflow management techniques are now widely adopted as a … Read more

A field trip where I was laughed at

05 Jul 2015

“A vast majority of the people do not have access to justice in Bangladesh”. This sentence in one form or the other is not only part of all the project documents UNDP is currently supporting in the justice sector but many speeches, reports, articles etc open or end with this sentence. This simple sentence evades the complex contexts and situations the country faces. Working in the justice sector for a year now, I thought I understood what this simple sentence meant until a field trip to Rangpur last week opened my eyes, the objective of which was to provide input into the new women’s access to justice programme.  In many senses, justice begins with injustice; knowing ones rights have been violated and an injustice committed. The constitution of Bangladesh enshrines equality before the law which means one has a right to redress no matter one’s social, religious, economic or cultural background; no matter if one is poor, a woman, a child, a hijra, a hindu, an ahmediyan, a Chakma, or without a limb. But injustice begins even before that, it begins with defining injustice in a society which is gnarled with social norms, values, principles and culture, some noble and some … Read more

Impermanent Justice: Legal Reform Workshop debates need for permanent prosecution service

29 Apr 2015

To generate productive policy discussion and articulate the legal issues requiring reform, the workshops drew issues to discuss from all segments of society.
With the growth of Government power and increase in law-making and regulation comes a natural rise in litigation. However despite these trends in Bangladesh, the establishment of a permanent prosecution / government pleading service to represent the State in a consistently high quality manner, across all such cases has not been forthcoming. The second Legal Reform Workshop held on 11 April 2015 at the CIRDAP Auditorium in Chameli House, Dhaka on ‘Law Officers of the State and Permanent Prosecution Service’ sought to examine this pressing and topical issue in Bangladesh. The Legal Reform Workshops are a series of structured Workshops organized by Dr. Shahdeen Malik (Advocate and Constitutional expert as well as Director of the School of Law at BRAC University and Honorary Director of the Bangladesh Institute of Law and International Affairs (BILIA)) and the Centre for Rights and Governance with support from UNDP, Bangladesh. The Workshops draw from all segments of society, to generate productive policy discussion and articulate the legal issues requiring reform, whilst also providing the impetus and setting the narrative for a comprehensive legal reform agenda. The first Workshop was held on 21 March 2015 on the topic ‘Legal Education: the Case for Reform.’ Esteemed panelists including Mr. Justice Md. … Read more

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