|Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh - Phase II|
About the project
Extensive case backlogs in the lower (formal) courts and complex, long and cumbersome procedural requirements is excluding large proportions of the population of Bangladesh, particularly the citizens living in poverty and makes them vulnerable to access to justice. To address these issues the Government of Bangladesh passed Village Courts Act 2006 which amended in 2013. For some , the Act was not functional and the local citizenry had limited enticements and/ or confidence in taking disputes to the village courts.
To come over these, the Local Government Division (LGD) under the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C) implemented a pilot project Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB) Project (2009-2015) in 351 unions of Bangladesh with financial and technical supports of EU and UNDP. The aim of the project was to improve access to justice by establishing village courts in 351 unions of Bangladesh. In this regard, the piloted project provided supports for building the capacity of service providers, creating demand of village courts through its awareness raising initiatives, policy reform actions and strengthening institutional monitoring system.
Since the inception of the project, a total of 87,200 cases have been submitted to the village courts and 78% of these have been resolved in line with the provisions of the law. The average time it takes to resolve a complaint is only 28 days compared to five years in the civil courts. Ownership of the government towards the village courts has been high and the government demonstrated its support by amending Village Courts Act 2006 in 2013 and disbursing BDT 190 million (USD 2.42 million) to establish village courts in additional 1,666 unions.
The success of the piloted AVCB project has motivated the UNDP, EU, and GOB to increase the scale of the project in Bangladesh and launched the 2nd phase of AVCB project (2016-2019) in January 2016 targeting 21 million people of 1080 unions of Bangladesh.
The overall objective of the project is to contribute to improving access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalized groups in Bangladesh through establishing village courts in 1080 unions of Bangladesh.
The specific objectives of the new phase are to make local authorities more responsive to local justice needs and offer appropriate legal services in the form of well- functioning village courts and to empower local people, especially women, the poor and vulnerable groups to seek remedies for injustices and to resolve their disputes at the local level in an expeditious, transparent and affordable manner.
- A total of 87,200 cases submitted to village courts. Of these 69,200 were resolved to take on average 28 days per case. Of these 61,200 decisions were implemented.
- 6,218 cases were referred from the district to village courts assisting to reduce the burden on the formal justice system.
- Access for women to justice increased. In total 21,720 women obtained justice through village court's. Representation of women in the village court decision-making process has increased from 8 percent in 2012 to 16 percent in 2015.
- A total of USD 3.79 million was recovered as compensation since 2010.
- The government is increasing funding commitments for continuing and scaling up village courts in Bangladesh.
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