Perception is Reality: Public Impressions of the Justice System in Bangladesh

31 Mar 2015

Community education sessions like those organized by the Village Courts Project assist in improving public perception of the justice system.
“Not only must Justice be done; it must also be seen to be done." Gordon Hewart, 1st Viscount Hewart, PC In Bangladesh, a country where the backlog of court cases waiting to be heard is estimated to be over two million and a single land case can take a decade to be resolved, there are plenty of objective indicators that the justice system is not meeting the needs of the vast majority of Bangladeshis. While quantitative data like these indicators is helpful in measuring the success of justice sector institutions, it does not provide any clear path towards lessening citizens’ distrust of or dissatisfaction with the justice system. A recent Situational Analysis study conducted by the UNDP’s Access to Justice (A2J) project combined quantitative and qualitative methods to measure the satisfaction level of citizens with the justice system in Bangladesh. By using both subjective and objective indicators, the A2J Analysis assists in identifying the symptoms of subjective dissatisfaction that, when addressed, could contribute to resolving some of the systemic issues currently plaguing the justice sector in Bangladesh. Perception surveys, aimed at discovering opinions rather than facts, are often used in market research to measure customer satisfaction and brand loyalty. The qualitative … Read more

Internet Access to Justice: How Going Digital Opens Up the Courts

12 Mar 2015

The web-based case information interface will also be integrated into the national website for subordinate courts to offer easy access. Photo: UNDP Bangladesh
Public access to legal information is one of the main means of ensuring human rights protection and justice delivery. Conversely, inadequate public access to legal information creates challenges for proper service delivery by rights duty-bearers in the justice sector. As a means to address this problem, the Supreme Court, with the assistance of UNDP-JUST, has launched an online cause list and SMS-based automated case status information service for litigants. These digital initiatives are low-cost and efficient ways of broadening access to justice in Bangladesh.Courts in Bangladesh have traditionally used cause lists (printed lists of cases awaiting a hearing) to inform litigants about the status of cases and when they will be heard. Reliance on a hard copy of the cause list kept at the court’s location meant that litigants either had to personally go to the court or pay additional fees to court staff and advocates to access information on the status of their cases. The introduction of an online cause list and means that litigants in the Supreme Court can now easily access their case history from anywhere in the world through the Supreme Court’s website (www.supremecourt.gov.bd). Litigants in the subordinate courts of the three JUST Project pilot districts can … Read more

Talking It Out: Innovative Training and Techniques Tackle Bangladesh’s Court Backlog

12 Mar 2015

The number of cases resolved through mediation has increased by 49% since baseline data for the Project was collected in 2012. Photo; UNDP Bangladesh
Face time with Justices from the Supreme Court is typically a rarity for lower court judges, but such meetings have become more frequent as a result of a UNDP Judicial Strengthening (JUST) Project initiative that encourages higher court justices to train and mentor lower court judges in the field. This unprecedented approach allows Supreme Court justices to share their unique expertise with District Court judges in a more local context. Through the training, the lower court judges learned about the different aspects of mediation, including stages of mediation, the role of the mediator, best practices, case management mechanisms, impediments to mediation and the psychological aspects of mediation. A total of 19 Senior and Assistant Judges from the Dhaka and Kishorganj District Family Courts participated in the training, including three women judges. The UNDP’s JUST Project supports the judiciary in strengthening its capacity to administer justice. One of the Project’s primary aims is to reduce the overwhelming backlog of cases in Bangladesh’s courts, estimated to be approximately 1.8 million cases at the Project’s outset. It is believed that a reduction in the backlog will provide a sustainable foundation for the improvement of access to justice, especially for vulnerable groups such as the … Read more