In both its legal aid and public interest litigation, BLAST defends the rights of children and juveniles in custody or in conflict with the law, using the Children’s Act, 1974 and invoking the Child Rights Convention, 1990. There are few juvenile correction centers in Bangladesh and children who are accused of crimes are frequently sent to adult prisons. BLAST unit offices and staff lawyers at the head office ensure transfers of children in adult prisons to juvenile correction centers, obtain bail for children, and defend children in court. The PIL cell has obtained judgments protecting the rights of children. For example, in 22 BLD (2002) 206, the High Court affirmed the responsibility of the Government of Bangladesh to ensure that children are tried under the Children Act, 1974 rather than the Code of Criminal Procedure. In 57 DLR (2005) 11, the High Court directed the government to try juveniles expeditiously before the juvenile courts.
BLAST also brought a writ petition to the High Court challenging the verdict of the death penalty for a minor, Shukur Ali. On 2 March 2010, the High Court determined that a sentencing provision that allowed only for the death penalty was unconstitutional, saying that a judge must have discretion to give a life sentence rather than the death sentence.
BLAST recently challenged the practice of requiring a father’s name on school information forms which meant that young people who had been abandoned by their father, and had been raised by their mothers as guardians were refused registration cards for secondary and higher secondary school certificate examinations. In response, the High Court issued a Rule directing the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Establishment, the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs, the Directorate of Secondary and Higher Secondary Education and various Boards of Education to show cause as to why such a requirement should not be held to be arbitrary, discriminatory and unconstitutional being in violation of the fundamental rights to equality, to be treated in accordance with law and the right to access to education.
BLAST has been part of a civil society dialogue with the Ministry of Women and Children Affairs on the drafting of the Children’s Policy, 2010 . It has also contributed as a member of the Drafting Committee of the Coalition of Voices against Domestic Violence (a network of human rights and women’s rights and development organizations) to the drafting of and advocacy for adoption of the Draft Domestic Violence Bill 2010 (recently approved by the Cabinet in July 2010).
Public Interest Litigation
- BLAST and ASK vs. Bangladesh and others [Corporal Punishment in Educational Institutions Case]
Writ Petition No. 5684 of 2010
- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust vs. Bangladesh and others [Detention of Child Md Zabed Case]
Writ Petition No. 4191 of 1998
4 BLC (1999) 600
- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust and another vs. Bangladesh and Others [Juvenile Court Case]
Writ Petition No. 606 of 2006
22 BLD (2002) 206
Full Text (Available in Bangla Only)
- Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust vs. Bangladesh and Others [Under-Trial Prisoners Case]
Writ Petition No. 7578 of 2003
57 DLR (2005) 11
- BLAST and ASK vs. Bangladesh and others [Children in Fetters Case]
Writ Petition No. 1676 of 2003
- ASK and BLAST vs. Bangladesh and others [Juveniles in Jail Case]
Writ Petition No. 6373 of 2007
- BLAST and others vs. Bangladesh and others [Recognition of Mother as Guardian Case]
Writ Petition No. 5343 of 2009