USAID's Promoting Peace and Justice Activity

Promoting Peace and Justice

Background and Justification

In Bangladesh the vulnerable, marginalized and disadvantaged women and disabled people are not aware of the Legal Aid funds available for them and often they are misled by the brokers within the legal framework as well as by the non-judicial local influential leaders. There is a lack of knowledge and an appropriate dissemination of information about where and how to seek legal aid support in the Courts, Upazilas and Union Parishads. The back logs of cases within the judiciary makes it very difficult for the Legal Aid Committee to reach the most vulnerable population which includes victims of gender based violence, violent extremism etc. The judiciary and the Legal Aid Committees have failed to earn the trust that these vulnerable population (victim gender based violence, violent extremism, etc) will have an easy access and support from the judiciary and the Legal Aid Committees whenever they are in critical circumstances and gravely required the support from them. There is no representation of the Legal Aid Committees in the court or in any form where the needy people will reach then to have their expertise and resources when they are in need. Lack of women friendly spaces, technical support, counseling booths for women who are victims with divorce, family violence, rape/sexual abuse, cases drug related crimes, GBV/TIP, early marriage and disabled people do not have adequate place and support for their needs at the existing legal institutions. Even though there are many female Justices, Judges and Lawyers in our Judiciary but the ratio is very low as per the requirements and demands of the people who are the true sufferer.

Lack of understanding and knowledge gaps is the big challenges in this field. The judiciary and the Legal Aid Committee members have never given high priority to their responsibility towards the people who are the top most sufferers and need then to be proactive. The judiciary and the Legal Aid Committee members do not possess a very positive attitude to be honest, sincere and trustworthy to the needy, vulnerable people and victims. They do not responsive at all individually and as responsible representatives of the institutions. Therefore, in the country people merely go to the relevant institutions, i.e. court, police stations, hospitals and legal aid service providers including Legal Aid Committees.

The project has been designed taking into account the following: (1) Article 5, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1948, (2) Sustainable Development Goal-target 16- Ensuring Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions (3) United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 37 which prohibits the torture and the ill treatment of the children, (4) CEDAW- Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Article 2, Section A-G which covers the torture and ill treatment against women and (5) United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (6) The Constitution of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh (6) Code of Criminal Procedure article 46 which deals with arrest and detention procedure in Bangladesh (7) Bangladesh’s National Women’s Policy-2011 and (8) The Children’s Act-2013.

The project will take the initiative to reduce back logs of cases; provide legal aid Fund by creating easy access to legal aid fund for the beneficiaries; provide technical support to courts the judiciary personnel so that they have a pro-people attitude, and proactive in their work, keep provision for a women friendly spaces in courts and display Citizens’ Charter, ensure the formal justice system will be improved through the inclusion and participation of all the actors, case management. The trainings and meetings will assist the Legal Aid Committee to development of the case management capacity of the judiciary. We will Lobby & Advocate with the Judiciary and government bodies’ sensitization on women, child and disable people on their rights and development. We shall try to reach out these people, sensitized them, provide training on relevant subjects, establish effective and trustworthy network, clear the vision of our project and the support we shall be providing them for creating a positive and fruitful image of their positions and institutions in order to Promoting Peace and Justice.

The project will strengthen normative efforts and support stakeholders to combat violence against women, including engaging men and boys as allies and agents of change; fighting sexual violence and supporting national organizations, which protect women against sexual violence; supporting national efforts to fight girl child and forced marriage. The project addresses the needs of women and girl survivors, including interventions to disrupt the gender-based violence cycle. The project emphasizes on practical guidance for building the whole system from A to Z — putting laws into practice, raising awareness of services and creating budgets. The project focuses on bringing gender-based violence clinical services to lower-level health facilities. For faster access, the project focus is on bringing services closer to the community, particularly in rural areas. The project facilitates finding common solutions in Bangladesh, by organizing exchanges of good practices.

Thematic priorities for the project include the promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, good governance, democracy and rule of law, economic development, poverty reduction, social cohesion, and job creation, especially for women. The project offers direct support to women and key stakeholders in order to increase women’s skills and voice and enable them to adopt leadership positions, or empower them to increase number of women taking part in peace processes and negotiations; promoting the development and implementation of non-discriminatory legislation; and supporting stakeholders working to protect and strengthen the capacity of women human rights defenders.

This project is designed to support civil society to become an effective force for political reform and defence of human rights. In doing this, it complements both geographical programmes that focus on public institution-building. The project will provide support to civil society organizations (CSO) by contributing to assess to legal aid and justice, in particular by supporting CSOs in the implementation of existing legislation, court rulings, international statutes, national policies & laws and other forms of regulations on access to legal aid support. The priority of the project is to foster coalitions and build synergies between CSOs and non-state actors (DLAC, UZLAC, UPLAC, District Bar Associations, Upazila Nirbahi Officers, Upazila Chairmen, Union Parishad Members etc.), and state actors (such as justice actors, penitentiary authorities, law enforcement etc.) in Bangladesh.

The proposal applies a Rights-Based Approach (RBA) encompassing all human rights, whether civil, political, economic, social or cultural. The RBA integrates the norms, standards and principles of human rights law into the plans, policies and processes of the project and applies to all sectors, modalities, and each step of the project cycle – identification, formulation, implementation, monitoring and evaluation. The project’s RBA denotes that target groups are considered ‘rights-holders’ with legal entitlements, and government institutions are not mere service providers but ‘duty-bearers,’ who are under an obligation to deliver on people’s human rights. In line with the Rights-Based Approach, the project will contribute to the awareness and development of the capacities of ‘rights-holders’ to claim their rights and ‘duty-bearers’ to meet their obligations. The project includes a robust monitoring system to evaluate both outcomes and processes. The project includes five working principles (1) applying all rights, (2) participation and access to decision-making, (3) non-discrimination and equal access, (4) accountability and access to rule of law and (5) transparency and access to information.

Project target groups and how they will benefit: The direct target group will be women victims of violent extremism, sufferers of arbitrary detention, TIP survivors, potential migrants, at risk population of child marriage, gender based violence and disabled people. They will be benefited by accessing the improved deliveries of the legal aid through the formal justice system. The secondary beneficiaries will be the women judges within the judiciary system will be able to improve their capacities in case management and will obtain equal consideration for promotion and judicial leadership position. The indirect beneficiaries will the mass people who will be aware of the efforts by the Government of Bangladesh institutions and civil society, and professional associations to transfer critical legal knowledge and the tools for concrete action to target communities.