UNDP helps boost rural justice in Bangladesh

28 Jan 2011

Dhaka – The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has been supporting the justice system in rural Bangladesh by training local public officials and community members on criminal and civil proceedings – as well as alternative dispute resolution methods.

UNDP’s rural justice project, with financial support from the European Union, strengthened the operation of village courts in areas where the previous dispute resolution system was based on the Shalish tradition, which relies on customary practices and religious laws - often swayed by vested interests and informal decision-making.

“Strengthening this system has not only helped to increase national efficiency in administration of justice but also opened up the proceedings to citizens creating a solid foundation of respect for the rule of law and a platform for democratic governance,” said Stefan Priesner, acting UNDP Resident Representative.

Stronger rural justice has also improved the efficiency in the national courts system and is expected to have a long-term impact for empowerment of rural women and marginalized groups.

“Restoration of the courts system across rural Bangladesh is dramatically increasing access to justice for some of the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the country,” Priesner added.