Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVC)


Project Period: December 2016 to June 2018

Working Area: Chittagong, Chandpur, Cox’s Bazar, Noakhali, Sylhet, Moulvibazar and Sunamganj

Donors: United Nations Development Programme (Supported by the European Union)


Context:

While disadvantaged populations face a variety of legal problems, the most frequent disputes concern family law matters affecting the rights, security, and legal entitlements of women and property disputes between neighbors and family members. Those with sufficient economic means, stature, and connections can choose from a combination of legal support services, including the formal court system, administrative mechanisms that facilitate licenses, permits, and other legal requirements, or community-based alternative dispute resolution mechanisms such as the traditional shalish. Those who lack financial resources and social leverage depend on a more limited range of options, and are more susceptible to victimization when accessing available support mechanisms.


Goal:

Make justice more accessible, fair, and affordable through activation of village courts (VC), mobilizing the local community, building capacity of staff at field level, and developing an effective and high quality monitoring system for activating VCs.


Objectives:

To empower and enable access to an affordable, fair and transparent justice system at the local level, particularly for marginalized and vulnerable groups. It will educate the community members in particular the rural poor, women and marginalized groups on their rights, remedies and methods of utilizing village courts as a means to resolve disputes. Linkages will be established between the formal and informal justice system to ensure a more joined-up process of justice delivery, prioritizing the needs of the poor, women and disadvantaged persons and communities. It will also make sure that the VC operates in accordance with law in a transparent manner accountable to the local community, and emerges as an effective local justice-delivery institution.


Beneficiaries:

The rural poor, including women and children and disadvantaged members of the community. Secondary beneficiaries include women’s organizations, Community based organization (CBO) members, village elites, Union Parishad(UP) Chairperson, religious bodies and other relevant bodies.


Activities:

  • Mediation services: Meetings with household members will be conducted about the local justice systems, particularly VC. Workshops on mediation techniques & VC processes will be organized for CBO Members at UP level.
  • Capacity building of UP personnel, field staff, CBO members, and village police. Issue-based skill development programs will be held for women and other disadvantaged groups at the upazilla level.
  • Upazilla level sensitization workshops will be organized with Judges, Government officials, UNO, MLJPA, LGRD, etcin order to ensure that VCs function in accordance with law and in a transparent manner for wider dissemination of information on VC
  • Technical and logistic support will be provided to Union Parishads for reinforcing VCs to make it more accessible for local communities


Expected Results:

The rural poor, particularly women will be able to use their knowledge and skills to demand justice and will be more aware of their rights and remedies and services available to protect themselves. There will be an increased participation of all stakeholders, including the community and local officials in the functioning of VC and CBOs.


WORK UNDERTAKEN


A total of 9109 cases have been reported directly to Village Courts of UP during reporting period in Chittagong and Cox’s Bazaar Division from April, 2011- August, 2015. 650 cases were received from upper courts. 2289 cases were resolved through forming Village Courts. 556 cases were resolved through pre-trial, while 2729 were resolved through rule 33. 3820 petitions were dismissed for default and 94 disputes were forwarded from VCs to concern courts.



The AVCB Project provides a window of opportunity for significant interventions for strengthening the justice system, particularly at the local levels. Recognition of the integrated interventions required for effective justice delivery have prompted a number of important interventions aimed at activating national institutions. First, the separation of the judiciary has been formally achieved through legal and administrative measures. New recruitments to the lower and superior courts have brought expectations of greater openness within the judiciary to addressing issues of access to justice and discrimination. Several institutions with mandates to address justice related issues, such as the National Human Rights Commission and the Information Commission, have been established and are being operationalised, while existing institutions, such as the National Legal Aid Organisation and the Law Reform Commission, are being reconstituted and resourced. This is the pilot phase of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB) project (2011-2015).


After successful implementation of this phase the Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C) has initiated Phase II of AVCB Project, a five year (2015-2020) intervention, with financial and technical support of Government of Bangladesh, UNDP, EU and Danida, covering 1,000 UPs across the country with the implementation Partners within the express time.

 

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
Copyright © 2010, BLAST | Web Design: Siraj / Machizo, Jahangir / BLAST