In a seminar on 'Mental health Act: England perspective and the scenario of
Bangladesh', the speakers stressed on the need for a law on mental health and
highlighted the problematic provisions in the existing draft Mental Health Act that
requires reconsideration. [ Press Release Bangla / English ]
BLAST is one of the leading legal services organizations in Bangladesh, and the only one that provides access to legal aid across the spectrum, from the frontlines of the formal justice system to the apex court. It prioritises support to women, men and children living in poverty or facing disadvantage or discrimination. It also provides legal aid, advice and representation across a range of areas, including civil, criminal, family, labour and land law, as well as on constitutional rights and remedies, providing access to judicial remedies alongside alternative dispute resolution wherever appropriate. Alongside individual legal aid, BLAST undertakes strategic litigation, or public interest litigation, as a key part of its advocacy for law and policy reforms to ensure effective legal protection of rights.
Currently operating in 19 districts across the country, BLAST works through its staff lawyers (and paralegals and researchers) at headquarters and in each district unit, in collaboration with its enlisted panel of about 2300 lawyers across the country who provide legal redress to clients on a pro bono basis, with a nominal honorarium. A panel of lawyers practicing in the Supreme Court of Bangladesh also undertakes litigation and advocacy on law and policy reform. BLAST is governed by a Board of Trustees comprised of eminent jurists, lawyers and human rights advocates with experience in domestic and international protection of human rights, who provide critical leadership to the organization. It is also supported by a Consultative Group, comprised of young professionals, including researchers, lawyers, and human rights advocates. It has a close relationship with the Bar Associations at all levels, in particular through its Management Committees comprised of leaders of the Bar within each District.
BLAST has gained proven expertise in providing legal aid to poor and disadvantaged clients, having undertaken some 57,467 cases to date. Over the years, out of 1,15,182 applications received for legal assistance, BLAST responded to 20,133 applications by resolving them through mediation. It has also filed about 82 public interest litigation cases before the Supreme Court of Bangladesh as part of its advocacy for law and policy reforms to address institutional obstacles to justice delivery. It regularly undertakes awareness programmes on legal rights for community members in its areas of operation, including family laws, criminal law and land laws. It is also involved in regular coordination meetings with local administration officials, in particular with key actors within the justice system, including members of the judiciary and legal profession, and with civil society organisations.