Bangladesh: Improving Access to Justice for the Poor

On October 1, 2017, NCSC celebrated five years of partnership with the Bangladesh government legal aid system. Since the inception of the USAID Justice for All Program (JFA), NCSC has worked in close collaboration with the National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) and District Legal Aid Committees in 15 pilot Districts to improve the management of the legal aid office, monitor use and quality of legal aid services, activate a local-level committee network for referrals, and educate citizens about eligibility for legal aid and how to access services. At the end of September 2017, case intake in pilot Districts had more than doubled compared to baselines and more than 707,000 citizens had received information about the government legal aid system.

Working with the District Legal Aid Offices in pilot Districts, NCSC has oriented local-level committee members on their duties, enabling them to effectively inform citizens about legal aid and refer eligible justice seekers to the Office for further assistance. To date, more than 26,000 officials have been oriented and local-level committees are reported as activated in 82% of the program’s geographic coverage. Through regular client consultation, NCSC has assisted the District Legal Aid Office in collecting valuable feedback on the quality of services and in identifying deficiencies in service delivery. As those deficiencies have been remedied, satisfaction with services and the likelihood of use of the formal justice system for dispute resolution has grown. These concrete actions are now documented in a joint NLASO-JFA Manual on Best Practices for the Management of Legal Aid Offices, which was launched officially by the NLASO Acting Director, the USAID D&G Deputy Director, and NCSC’s JFA Chief of Party in July 2017. 

NCSC is present in Bangladesh as USAID’s implementing partner for the Justice for All Program (JFA), a six-year initiative that aims to improve legal aid, strengthen judicial governance, and expand legal literacy in Bangladesh. JFA is active in fifteen of Bangladesh’s 64 Districts. For more information on the JFA Program, please visit www.justice-bd.org.