Research Report
Exploring Legal Aid Services of BRAC HRLS Programme in Coxs Bazar
March 22, 2012

Md. Akramul Islam, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, Shuburna Chodhuary and Mrinmoy Samadder

ABSTRACT

This study explored the present status of legal aid services under BRAC Human Rights and Legal Aid Services (HRLS) programme ensuring social justice to the poor rural women and children in six branch offices of Cox’s Bazar district. Using qualitative method, data were collected through observations, in-depth interviews, and case studies. Secondary data were also obtained on legal aid services from the programme documents. We observed the performance of Legal Aid Clinics, Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) sessions, and the performances of staff and volunteers. The findings reveal that most of the disputes occurred for demand of dower and maintenance, demand of money and assets promised as dower, regain conjugal rights, and appeal for separation and divorce. In the last year (April 2010-March 2011) 119 disputes (44.1%) of 271 disputes were resolved through mediation or ADR sessions and 146 disputes (53.6%) were under process for ADR or litigation, and 6 disputes (2.2%) were dropped due to the absence of the disputing party. The study identified some gaps or weaknesses in the way of effective implementation of the programme. Insufficient resources including space for programme activities, lack of skilled staff with legal background, staff shortage, lack of communication and networking at community and upazila levels, shortage of budget for the programme, inactive shebok/shebikas (volunteers), lack of professional interaction between panel lawyer and Field Organizer (FO) were some of the barriers in the success of programme implementation.

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