Small NGOs do not receive similar facilities and treatment as the bigger and renowned ones do
The fourth webinar of the Academy of Law and Policy (ALAP) has discussed the role of NGOs during Covid-19 in Bangladesh, and the regulatory and practical challenges involved.
ALAP’s “Legal Webinar Series” was streamed live from its Facebook page at 4:00pm on Friday, a press release said on Saturday.
The webinar was moderated by Barrister Anita Ghazi Rahman, advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh and founder and managing partner at The Legal Circle.
The discussants on Friday’s webinar were Justice Kashefa Hussain of the High Court Division of Supreme Court; Mahmuda Rahman Khan, senior gender adviser, USAID, Bangladesh; and Shameran Abed, senior director, Brac and Brac International.
Justice Kashefa explained the various articles from the constitution which are relevant during this pandemic.
She said: “Particularly, emphasizing on Article 15 (a) which provides States have the fundamental responsibility to ensure the provisions of the basic necessities of life including food, clothing, shelter, education and medical care.
“Although this article is not judicially unenforceable, it remains within the realm of fundamental rights offered by the State,”
The High Court justice reiterated that the central role of NGOs is to assist the State, when the State is unable to provide adequate assistance, specifically in the development sector.
She also emphasised that: “We must remember that NGOs are a creation of the statute of the land.”
When asked whether the bureaucratic process of NGO project approvals need to be eased during this pandemic, Brac Senior Director Shameran suggested on differentiating between development activities and humanitarian response; the Covid-19 pandemic falls under the latter category.
He further affirmed: “The pandemic has enabled and pushed us to work more efficiently; hence, we should make use of this opportunity to develop our work system and enable digital approvals.”
The USAID Senior Adviser Mahmuda assented to the view of Shameran and stated that, with the aim of achieving the Digital Bangladesh goal by 2021, the Covid-19 pandemic is the most appropriate time to digitalize work process in various sectors.
Moreover, she also opined that: “As citizens if we fulfil our own responsibilities there would not be a necessity to promulgate laws for every situation.”
Shameran further stated that, since the time of independence till now, successive regimes have allowed civil society organizations to flourish; furthermore, the government has also efficiently provided support to provide services to the people.
Mahmuda also pointed out the struggles of smaller NGOs, as they do not receive the similar facilities and treatment as the bigger and renowned NGOs; for instance, when it comes to registration and approval processes.
The ALAP is an independent, non-political, non-profit making platform with the main objective of bringing together leading jurists, industry leaders, and development partners to discuss current legal and policy issues and challenges facing Bangladesh, to conduct research into these issues, to formulate concrete law and policy reform proposal to be presented to the policymakers, to engage in advocacy, and to disseminate knowledge.
As ALAP’s first initiative, it launched a Legal Webinar Series comprising thought-provoking addresses and discussions on law and policy issues during the Covid-19 Pandemic.