Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Phase III
The formal courts in Bangladesh are overburdened with approximately 4 million cases. This case backlog along with complex procedures mean that a large proportion of Bangladeshis, especially the poor, are deprived of their access to justice. The Government of Bangladesh (GoB) legislated the Village Court Act, 2006 to provide quasi-judicial dispute resolution mechanism to resolve petty civil and criminal disputes at the doorsteps of the rural people. However, despite the potential, the village court system has never functioned fully in compliance with the law. As a result, citizens had limited confidence to take their disputes to the Village Courts. The Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh (AVCB) Phase III Project seeks to support Village Courts in Bangladesh as an effective local dispute resolution mechanism. The first phase of the project was piloted from 2009 –2015 and the second phase was implemented from January 2016-June 2022. The success of the first and second phase has motivated the Government of Bangladesh, EU and UNDP to scaling-up of the project across Bangladesh, except for the Chittagong Hill Tracts with the aim of providing local justice to approx. 89 million rural citizens of Bangladesh. The project is anchored in the Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C). The LGD has been leading the activation of Village Courts in new 3041 UPs and providing support to maintain VCs in the 1,416 UPs already activated under pilot and second phases of the project.
Area of Work
- Capacity building on Village Courts service providers;
- Mainstreaming project activities to the GoB staff to ensure that village court function is sustainably taken over by the Government by 2027;
- Legal and Policy framework
- GoB monitoring capacity for evaluating VCs performance
- Understanding of community people about the roles and functions of the VCs
- Maintenance of performance of the existing VCs activated in AVCB-I and AVCB-II
Successfully resource mobilization (47.01 m US$: EU 28.64 and GoB 18.64) for AVCB phase III project ensured GoB ownership for greater sustainability.
The AVCB-II project has successfully activated Village Courts in 1079 UPs.
Village courts have provided efficient and effective legal services to 2,36,868 (Women:30%) rural people including women and vulnerable populations.
Village courts resolved over 82% of reported cases taking only 25 days.
Court users spent 233 takas (US$ 2.7) as courts fees, conveyance and food cost on an average to get service and 91% user expressed their satisfaction on VC’s services.
Representation of women in VC’s decision-making process has increased from 2% (2017) to 15% (2021)
A total of 11,669 cases have been referred from District Courts to Village Courts for disposal which is playing a significant role in reducing the backlog of cases in the District Courts.
A total amount of BDT 191 Crore 76 Lakhs has been recovered and provided to the petitioner through VCs. The applicants have used the money for treatment (20%), family needs (39%), small business (27%), repay loan (11%), purchase assets (3%).
Enacted Village Courts Rules in February 2016 and amendment of Village Court Act 2006 is under process.
Overall objective of the project is to increase access to justice for people in rural areas of Bangladesh, especially women, ethnic minorities and disadvantaged groups. The specific objectives are as follows:
To improve capacity of local justice actors to meet the justice needs of the population and offer appropriate legal services in the form of well-functioning village courts;
To empower people living in rural areas, especially women, the poor and other disadvantaged groups to access Village Courts to resolve minor disputes.
Local Government Division
UNITED NATIONS DEVELOPMENT PRO
DELIVERY IN PREVIOUS YEARS