OPJP: Opening pathways to Justice for the Poor


Project Period: 1st July 2016 - 31st December 2021


Working Area:
 Barishal, Bogura, Chattogram, Cumilla, Dhaka, Dinajpur, Faridpur, Jashore, Khulna, Kushtia, Mymensingh, Noakhali, Pabna, Patuakhali, Rajshahi, Rangamati, Rangpur, Sylhet and Tangail


Donors:
Royal Danish Embassy, Diakonia, Open Society Foundation


Context:

Following the Liberation War of 1971, Bangladesh adopted a Constitution articulating fundamental rights for all. Sadly, its aspirations remain unrealized. This situation is caused largely by the overarching context of poverty, severe backlogs, endemic corruption and distance hampering access to justice. They also further contribute to a systemic bias in favour of the powerful, the wealthy and vested social and political interest groups. Informal traditional justice systems, such as the village shalish, while readily accessible, subscribe to traditional value systems. These values endorse patriarchal and religious hierarchies and fail to comply with minimal human rights norms, including that of participation. Thus, the scope for the powerless to obtain remedies in both the formal and informal system is severely limited. The need for robust and independent legal services, particularly for marginalized communities, therefore remains critical. Through consolidation of a legal services programme (awareness, advice, mediation, litigation, advocacy, including quality assurance, case management, capacity development), with an enhanced focus on inclusion of marginalized, socially excluded and harder to reach communities, in particular women, BLAST seeks to contribute to providing greater access to justice to poor, marginalized and socially excluded communities in Bangladesh.


Goal:

The overall goal of the proposed project is to provide increased access to justice for socially excluded and marginalised women, men and children in particular workers, persons with disabilities and ethnic minorities and thereby contribute towards reducing poverty, inequality and discrimination.


Objectives:

Within this overall goal, BLAST will seek to achieve the following objectives:

  • Significant reduction in discrimination and violence against women, men and children living in poverty or facing social exclusion or marginalisation;
  • Increased capacity of poor women, men and children to draw upon their knowledge and skills to demand justice and be aware of their rights, remedies, referrals and services available to protect them;
  • Access to non-discriminatory legal services for women, men and children living in situations of social exclusion who face exploitation or abuse;
  • Increased commitment and responsiveness within state mechanisms and agencies at local and national levels to ensure delivery of non-discriminatory access to justice to socially excluded or marginalised women, men and children;
  • Improvements in the legislative, policy and institutional framework to reduce discrimination against poor and socially excluded people, and to facilitate their access to remedies within the justice system including both courts and commissions, such as the Information Commission and the NHRC, and administrative bodies;
  • Improvements in the legal and policy framework on workers’ rights, enabling them to claim their rights and entitlements; and
  • Knowledge sharing on good practices around gender and human rights through linkages, networks and partnerships with NGOs and CBOs for facilitating access to justice for women, men and children living in social exclusion or facing discrimination, with particular focus on those working with marginalized communities, such as Disabled People's Organisations and workers’ rights organisations.


Activities:

Strong and comprehensive legal services will expand access to remedies and services for the marginalized and socially excluded, particularly women through:

  • Provisions of legal assistance to disadvantaged groups for claiming remedies in the formal justice system through mediation, litigation, advocacy meetings. It will reinforce its linkages with lawyers, government agencies, employers, trade unions, rights organizations and advocates through workshops/seminars, meetings and awareness training programs.
  • Evaluating new and existing laws/policies and High Court judgments in relation to how they benefit the interests of women , men and children who are socially excluded or marginalized through surveys, research and data collection .It will continue to establish linkages with relevant stakeholders affected by rights violations.
  • Public interest litigations writs will be filed and initial orders in favour of the clients will be acquired to establish rights to equality and non-discrimination, and the right to access to justice of the poor and the disadvantaged (dwellers, landless people, workers) and marginalized communites.
  • Investigate specific allegation of human rights violations
  • Capacity building through training staffs and holding coalition meetings with the media at local and national level.


Expected Result:

To significantly reduce discrimination and violence against disadvantaged and marginalized women, men and children. Those living in poverty will be able to use their knowledge and skills to demand justice and will be more aware of their rights, remedies referrals and services available to them.

 

BLAST, YMCA Development Center, 1/1 Pioneer Road, Kakrail, Dhaka-1000, Bangladesh
BLAST would like to thank Sara Hossain, Jahangir Alam, Arafat Hosen Khan, Amanda Sen, Rokeya Chowdhury & Kazi Ataul-al Osman for content development
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