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

A Bangladesh for All – Not beyond belief, just beyond our grasp

10 Mar 2015

Gender equality sit at the centre of the Facility’s approach. Mainstreaming and targeted interventions, such as engaging women as front-line health workers, is supporting sustainable development in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. PHOTO CREDIT: KAWSER AHMED
Violence against women is a widespread issue and it is not one that’s going away. Over the past two decade, many global initiatives have been undertaken to promote and enforce women’s rights. Significant international mechanisms have been developed, world conferences held and even a decade dedicated to the plight of women (1975-85). In spite of these initiatives, progress towards the achievement of women’s rights globally has been slow and in Bangladesh, violence against women remains a serious concern. It is an issue that permeates all aspects and levels of society, making it a national issue. When women and girls are prevented from enjoying education, are prohibited from raising their voice, are denied their basic rights or access to justice, Bangladesh as a whole suffers too. In fact, a 2012 study found that Bangladesh experienced a 20% loss of potential income as a result of women not being allowed to reach their economic potential[i]. While women all over Bangladesh face different forms of discrimination and barriers to justice, women in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) face a unique set of challenges. Such discriminations are further enhanced due to ethnicity, religious persuasion and socioeconomic marginalization. A household survey conducted by the Human Development … Read more