A large number of Bangladeshis are now aware of their legal rights and their interactions with the justice system have become fairer thanks to a five-year Community Legal Services (CLS) programme.
CLS provided grants to 18 NGOs who aimed to improve community legal support for the poor, marginalised and socially excluded communities in Bangladesh.
The positive impact of the programme has been highlighted in a research study by the UK Overseas Development Institute on access to justice for the poor, titled “Can NGOs Improve Justice in Bangladesh?”
Professor Ferdous Jahan of Dhaka University and Overseas Development Institute Research Fellow Craig Valters presented the results of the study at Long Beach Suites in Dhaka.
Researchers said: “NGOs can improve the quality of justice processes through providing timely, clear, and respectful support to disputants and can help them secure a fairer outcome from their cases.
“CLS has contributed to some attitudinal change around access to justice and recommend a longer project timeframe and mandate to support long-term sustainable change.”
Researchers also called for broader social and economic support to be given to women facing violence.
CLS Team Leader Jerome Sayre called for the work of regional development NGOs, national legal aid NGOs, and the government legal aid system to be combined to deliver fairer justice to more citizens at lower costs.
The CLS programme is funded by UK Aid and implemented by Maxwell Stamp PLC in partnership with the British Council.