Assignment on Various Workshop for Implementing Village Court Law

 Village Courts holds workshop in Nilphamari

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project organised a district level workshop on strengthening sensitization and involvement of the stakeholders on Village Courts on Tuesday, 15 June in Nilphamari.
The workshop was aimed at involving the field level high and mid-level government officials and other key stakeholders with the process of implementing the project activities through sensitizing them about the potentials in activating village courts.
Mr. Zillur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner, Nilphamari district was present at the workshop as chief guest while Mr. ATM Siddiqur Rahman, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) gave welcome address.
Showering praise to the Village Courts project activities, the Deputy Commissioner said the government has already given prioritized to activate the village courts in a bid to enhance good governance and ensure justice to rural poor people.

Mr. Alamgir Rahman, Superintended of Police (SP), Nilphamari also addressed the workshop mentioning the role of police in activating village courts at UP level.

Simulation on Village Court Trial Process held

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project facilitated simulation sessions on village courts trial process for the UP elected representatives and CBO members at Bhairab, Kishorganj on June 10, 2010 as a part of a three-day field testing training (held from June 8 to 10, 2010) on the Draft Village Courts Training Manual. The simulation sessions on Village Courts trials helped the participants (especially VC officials) to attain skills and knowledge to conduct village courts efficiently.

The project organized the experimental training program to assess the potential and effectiveness of the training manual and develop capacity of the UP elected representatives and CBO members to conduct Village Courts (VCs) efficiently.

Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Village Courts Project and Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD&C inaugurated the training while Mr. Tulshi Ranjan Saha, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General), Kishoregonj chaired the event. About 100 local government representatives and officials, civil society members, journalists attended the inaugural event. The training included sessions on basic concepts on local justice i.e. as good governance, gender, human rights and judicial ethics, Village Courts law, rules and procedures.  Meanwhile, the project team and the NGO trainers jointly facilitated the simulation sessions. A total of 27 participants including 16 UP elected representatives and CBO members and 11 specialized trainers on VCs from 5 NGOs took part in the field testing and provided their valued recommendations on the methods, processes and contents of the manual.

 Preliminary exploration on pilotingVCs project held at Bhairab

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project held a preliminary exploratory meeting at Bhairab Upazila in Kishorganj district on Monday, 31 May in a bid to find the potentiality and feasibility for initiating piloting village courts in four Union Parishads under Bhoirab Upazila, Kishoregonj.

During the visit, the project team met with UNO, six UP chairmen and other key stakeholders and discussed a number of issues including possibilities and foreseeable challenges to initiate the piloting of village courts in four unions (Sadekpur, Aganagar, Srinagar and Shimulkandi).

The project team comprised Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Village Courts Project & Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD&C, Mr. Masud Karim, Program Officer, UNDP and Mr. Sarder M Asaduzzaman, Project Manager, AVCP.

 Village Courts Project holds meeting with MIE wing of LGD

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project held a meeting with Monitoring Inspection and Evaluation (MIE) wing of Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MLGRD and Cooperatives) on Sunday, 9 May.
The meeting was aimed at strengthening the monitoring, inspection and evaluation procedures within the LGD of MLGRD and Cooperatives, particularly at district and Upazilla level focusing on the village courts. Issues of developing guidelines for monitoring and evaluation in perspectives of strengthening village courts at UP level came up for discussion.
The meeting also discussed the progresses of project monitoring activities and took decision to develop a concept note on project monitoring mechanism, which would be finalized after organizing a consultation meeting with the experts and the key stakeholders.

VCs holds divisional workshop in Sylhet

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project on Saturday, 22 May organized a divisional workshop on strengthening sensitization and involvement of the stakeholders on Village Courts in Sylhet. The workshop was aimed at involving the high and mid field level government officials and other key stakeholders with the process of implementing the project activities through sensitizing them about the potentials in activating village courts.

Local Government Division (LGD) Secretary Mr. Monzur Hossain was present at the workshop as chief guest while Additional IGP (Training) Mr. Mohammad Aminul Islam as special guest. Divisional Commissioner of Sylhet Division Md. Golam Rabbani, presided over workshop. The Secretary said that Village Courts can play a significant role in strengthening local justice system in the country, especially in ensuring justice for rural poor, women and marginalized people.

 Nat’l Roundtable Discussion on Baseline survey on VCs held

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project organised a ‘National Roundtable Discussion on Baseline Survey Report on Village Courts’ at a hotel in Dhaka on Sunday, 16 May to share the findings of a comprehensive baseline survey with the experts and other key stakeholders.
The survey, conducted by the Village Courts in its project area recently, showed a grim picture of access to justice of poor and women in rural areas. According to the survey, the rural poor have a very limited access to the justice and most of them still depend on the informal Shalish or conciliation process, regulated by local Matbar (opinion leader) or community leaders which failed to provide fair and meaningful justice due to corruption, bias, and fotwa.
About 92 percent of the respondents said that such courts are needed while 24 per cent of them know partly about the village courts.
Speaking as chief guest, State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Mr. Jahangir Kabir Nanak said that the village courts can play an instrumental role in making the local justice system effective and sustainable and at the same time accessible to the poor. He asked the district and upazila level administration to monitor the activities of village courts closely in order to make it effective and acceptable to people.
UNDP Resident Representative a.i. Mr. Stefan Priesner termed the village courts project a “powerful government vehicle” to strengthen and take justice services to the people’s doorstep. “Access to justice is a prerequisite for poverty reduction and any program to foster it directly contributes to the government’s central goal of poverty reduction,” he added. 
Local Government Division (LGD) Secretary Mr. Monzur Hossain and National Project Director of Village Court Project Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan were also present at the discussion.

 VCs holds workshop with UP chair, members in Patuakhali

Aimed at developing and strengthening monitoring, inspection and evaluation procedures within the Local Government Division (LGD) of Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development and Cooperatives (MLGRD and C), the Village Courts project organized two workshops at Dashmina and Patuakhali Sadar Upazila in Patuakhali district on 28-29 April.
Through the workshops, participants were sensitized about the justice delivery system and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) process of the Village Courts. Experiment on chronicles of training tools to apply for the local stakeholders was made which was found useful in advancing the VCs.
Md. Riaz Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner spoke at the event at Patuakhlali Sadar as chief guest  while Mr. Amal Krisna Mandal, ADC (General) was present as special guest. Md. Azmal Hossain, UNO presided over the workshop at Dashmina upazila.
A total of 78 participants including UP chairmen and members, government officials took part in the training.

 VCs hold upazila and union- level workshops at Moulvibazar, Sylhet

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organized two workshops titled “Strengthening sensitization and involvement of the stakeholders in activating Village Courts” at Moulvibazar Sadar Upazila, Moulvibazar and East Jaflong Union, Guainghat, Sylhet on April 29 and 30 respectively.
The project organized the workshops aiming to involve the field level high and mid level officials with the process of implementing the project activities through sensitizing them about the potentials in activating the village courts. The workshops successfully able to sensitized the cross section of people  including government officials, representatives of Upazila, Unions, NGOs, CBOs, lawyers, police, media, women leaders in focusing the potentials of Village Courts and having their active participation in activating the VCs.
Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Activating Village Courts Project and Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD and C attended as Chief Guest at both the workshops while Mr. Md. Mofizul Islam, and Mr. Sazzadul Hasan, Deputy Commissioners of Moulvibazar and Sylhet presided over their respective events.

The National Project Director said that the potentials of Village Courts Project in strengthening local justice system in the country is immense, especially it carries instrumental efforts in ensuring justice for the women, poor and marginalized people. The participants of the workshops took part in group discussions and presented their suggestions on the ways of activating village courts. A total 110 participants (including 37 female) attended at the workshops.

 Village Courts project team visits 8 Union Parisads

As part of continuous efforts to strengthen the local justice services at rural level for the marginalized including destitute women, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project made an extensive field visit at eight Union Parishads in Madaripur, Gopalganj and Rajbari districts from Monday, 19 April to Friday, 23 April.
The visit included several sharing meetings with Village Courts officials, community, local representatives, secretaries, imams, teachers, NGOs, media, administration, complainant, defendants and witnesses to intensify awareness and getting cross section of opinions on village courts. The field trip also leveraged taking necessary video footage for making a documentary on Village Courts together with UNDP Communications Team and the Project.
The sharing meetings at different unions explored the potentials of Village Courts and clarified the participants various aspects regarding the function and process of VCs. The team also observed the trial sessions at village courts, activities of Shalish (mediation) and courtyard meetings at different places of the unions.

VCs to assess IT capacity in UPs for local justice service

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project is carrying out a survey to assess the Information Technology (IT) capacity in Union Parisads (UPs) and find out the existing physical infrastructure opportunity for improving service delivery and Village Court performance. The survey will help project to understand the rationale, strategic needs and level of interventions bringing the IT support as well as suggest piloting areas to provide equipment, training needs and other logistic supports required. Extensive field visit is underway since October for collecting data by the designated ICT survey team from 50 sample UPs of 20 upazila covering 14 districts of six divisions covering the Village Courts project intervention areas.

Village Courts published booklet and other IEC materials

With the support of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project, Local Government Division, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives published a booklet on Village Courts Act 2006 titled “Gram Adalote Bichar: Songslishtha Ain O Bidhimala’. The booklet contains the acts and rules of the village courts in Bengali so as to make understandable to the stakeholders especially for the UP Chairmen, members and VC officials. The project also brought out a pocket card on the Justice Process in Village Courts which narrates the whole process of the VC precisely to make the community aware about easy accessibility to the village courts. It also printed six different stickers, posters, flip charts with messages of village courts, colorful festoons for union parishad and a result oriented handicraft scrap book containing project progresses. The VC book and IEC materials drew huge attention of the stakeholders and availed in enhancing their knowledge on village courts. The PDF version of the VC booklet and other IEC materials are available in www.villagecourts.org.

 Village Courts holds consultation with NILG on endorsing Training Manual

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project organised a day-long consultation workshop with National Institute of Local Government (NILG) on endorsing Village Court Training Manual and Conduction of Training for Trainers (ToTs) Thursday, 21 October at NILG in Dhaka. The project organised the consultation aimed at reviewing, integrating and endorsing the training manual by NILG as Local Government Division (LGD) assigned earlier the institute to carry out a series of training related activities of the project.

Secretary for LGD Mr. Manzoor Hossain inaugurated the workshop as chief guest while NILG DG Mr. Kabir M Ashraf Alam was present at the programme as special guest. National Project Director of Village Court Project Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, also a Additional Secretary, LGD presided over the inaugural session. Terming the village court training manual an ‘important document’ for the government and the project as well, the Secretary said that it would be play an instrumental role in enhancing the capacity of the target stakeholders in activating village courts. A total of 13 participants including the expert team of NILG attended the workshop.

EC-ROM mission visits the VC Project activities

The 2nd EC-ROM mission visited the VC Project activities from October 10 to 14, 2010 and found impressive progresses in the efforts to activating village courts at union level. Mrs. Ferdous Jahan, representative of EC-ROM mission visited several project intervened unions of Sylhet, Rajbari and Faridpur and observed the different activities of the project. The mission also met with concerned judicial officials, local administration and other stakeholders. She also met with UNDP and project officials and discussed with several issues of project activities. The ROM mission also shared the findings of the visit in a debriefing meeting and pointed out the salient progresses of the project along with some specific issues and recommendations. She also termed the project communication and training materials as excellent tools to attune the stakeholders and community for enhancing their involvement and capacity in activating village courts.

Inauguration of Village Courts Ejlas in Rajbari and Faridpur

As a part of continuous efforts to equip village courts for delivering justice services to the community the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh recently inaugurated two ejlas set up in two UPs under Faridpur and Rajbari district. The first ejlas in Rajbari district was inaugurated by the Ms. Syeda Shahana Bari, Deputy Commissioner of Rajbari in Mulghar UP of Rajbari Sadar upazila on 5th October while the first ejlas in Faridpurt district was inaugurated by Mr. Helaluddin Ahmed, Deputy Commissioner of Faridpur in Kamarkhali UP under Modhukhali upazila on 6th October. The community particularly the UP representatives felt overwhelmed finding their respective DCs at your locality to inaugurate ejlas in their UP. Both the DCs explained about the priority of the present government has put on ADR where village courts can vital role to play in ensuring local justice services to the community. They said this is a significant initiative from the current government to bring justice services to the doorsteps of poor and vulnerable communities. Among others Mr. Sarder Asaduzzaman, Project Manager, Village Courts project and Mr. Masud Karim, Programme Officer, UNDP was present in both the occasions and spoke about the village courts project intervention.

Training, workshops to establish model Village Courts going on

As part of continuous efforts to activate village courts at union level, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project is holding series of advocacy and capacity build-up programmes including training and workshops at Vandaria Upazila, Pirojpur and South Surma, Sylhet aimed at establishing model Village Courts.

The project is also supporting 12 selected union parishads in establishing court-room in a bid to run the village courts activities effectively. Eminent lawyer Dr. Shahdin Malik inaugurated a court-room at Tetli union in South Surma, Sylhet on Sunday, 26 September. He said that village courts will definitely avail to provide fair justice to the villagers and called upon all to come forward to cooperate with this endeavors in activating village courts. The project is arranging these programs aimed at to help promotion of Village Courts as the LGD selected 12 unions of two upazilas for establishing model VCs as a laboratory for the rest selected unions.

VC project installs billboards, signboards at district, union level

To help the promotion of village courts and raise awareness among communities, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project have installed billboards and signboards at district and union level.
Bearing the messages about village courts, the signboards are being installed in the premises of Union Parishad offices at 500 unions covered by the project. Billboards are also installed in District Court premises at 17 districts of 6 divisions- Dhaka, Chittagong, Rajshahi, Khulna, Sylhet, and Barisal.

Village Courts holds workshops, rallies in Sylhet, Barisal

As a part of initiative to establishing model Village Courts, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project is simultaneously holding workshops and rallies in several upazilas, unions and CBOs with the key stakeholders of Village Courts at Vandaria Upazila, Pirojpur and South Surma, Sylhet.  Started on Thursday, 16 September, the programme will continue till 3 October.

The project is arranging these events aiming to advance VC activities as the LGD selected 12 unions of these two upazilas for establishing model VCs in a bid to establish these village courts as a laboratory for the rest selected unions. The project experts pointed out the legal aspects, procedures of village courts along with potentials and effective ways of involvement of the stakeholders at these events with regard to activating village courts at UP level. The Deputy Commissioners of the districts, ADCs, UNOs, DDLGs, UP Chairmen, Secretaries, judicial officials and other stakeholders attended the events.

The rallies, street drama have created sensitization and enthusiasm among the villagers at unions.

 Upazila and union level workshops for establishing model Village Courts

The “Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh” project is organizing two upazila workshops with the key stakeholders of Village Courts on September 16 at Vandaria Upazila, Pirojpur and South Surma, Sylhet simultaneously. The project is arranging these workshops aiming to advance VC activities in the 12 LGD-selected unions of these two upazilas, in a bid to establish these village courts as a laboratory for the rest selected unions. Deputy Commissioners of the districts, ADCs, UNOs, DDLGs, UP Chairmen, Secretaries, judicial officials and other stakeholders will be attending the workshops. The project will also organize 12 union level dissemination workshops from September 18 to 30, 2010 in the same upazilas.

On Job Training on Village Court held at Bhairob

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organized ‘on the Job Training on Village Court’ on 5 September 2010 at Srinagar and Sadekpur UPs of Bhairab upazila under Kishoreganj district. The project arranged this training program to enhance hands on skills of the VC officials on the documentation process of village courts and capacity development of the UP elected representatives and CBO members in conduction of VCs efficiently. The event conducted several sessions on VC procedures and other relevant issues in conduction of village courts. The training added value in enhancing the skills with the knowledge on basic concepts on VCs i.e.  local justice, good governance, gender, human rights and judicial ethics, VC laws, rules and procedures etc. The participants showed much interest in the training programme and put their utmost sincerity to acquire the practical knowledge on filling up various VC forms, writing, maintaining VC registers and process of conducting village courts. In total 18 village courts officials participated in the training. Mr. Md. Khorshed Alam, UNO, Bhairab, Mr. Masud Karim Ripon, Programme Officer, UNDP, Hamidul Haque Khan, Training Manager facilitated the training sessions. The event grabbed mentionable media coverage.

Village Courts project to hold workshop with judicial officers Sept 4

The Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project will hold a day-long workshop with judicial officers on potential and reforms of Village Courts (VCs) on Saturday, 4 September at Circuit House in Barguna district. The workshop aims at facilitating the legal review process, review process of social barriers and limitations of VCs and developing a reference guide book for VCs with valuable opinion of judicial officers of different tiers and other stakeholders.

Deputy Commissioner of Barguna Mr. Mozibur Rahman will be present at the programme as chief guest while District Judge, Barguna Mr. Md. Salimullah will chair the event.

Feasibility and Perception testing workshop on IEC materials focusing VCs held

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organised a ‘Feasibility and Perception Testing on Communication and Advocacy Strategy and Field Testing on Flip Charts and other IEC Materials with Local Stakeholders’ on Wednesday, 25 August at Alamdanga Upazila in Chuadanga district.

The workshop aimed at getting necessary feedback from the stakeholders and verifies the applicability to get best outputs. Meanwhile, in keeping endeavors to promote the project through disseminating information related to village courts, gender and human rights issues, the project is in progress to bring out different IEC materials in line with the Project Communication and Advocacy Strategy. Addressing as chief guest, Deputy Commissioner of Chuadanga district Mr. Bhola Nath Dey lauded the project initiative to interact with grassroots level on IEC materials which will contribute in enriching the knowledge/dissemination products in line with activating Village Courts.

Village Courts workshops held in Moulvibazar & Faridur

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organised a workshop with Judicial Officers on the Potential and Reforms of Village Court on Saturday, 21 August in Moulvibazar district aimed at facilitating the legal review process, social barriers and limitations on Village Court and developing the reference guide book for VCs alongwith having valuable opinions of the judicial officers and other stakeholders.

Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Activating Village Courts Project and Additional Secretary, LGD, Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (LGRD and Cooperatives) was present at the workshop as chief while Deputy Commissioner of Moulvibazar special guest. Senior and mid level government officers took part in the workshop.

Meanwhile, the project organised a upazila level workshop on Monday, 23 August at Nagarkanda Upazila under Faridpur district. As a part of continuous effort to create awareness on VCs among the stakeholders, the project orgainsed the workshop aimed at involving the field level high and mid level officials, UP chairmen and VC officials with the project implementation process through sensitizing them about potential in activating the village courts. Addressing as chief guest, Deputy Commissioner, Faridpur, Mr. Helaluddin Ahmed assured all necessary cooperation in executing the project activities at Faridpur district. A total of 72 participants (including 24 female) were present at the workshop.

Workshop on M & E of Village Courts  held in Cox’s Bazar

With a view to contribute in developing and strengthening monitoring, inspection and evaluation procedures within the LGD of Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives with regards to village courts, the Village Courts Project organized two workshops at Chakaria and Ramu Upazila in Cox’s Bazar district on Monday, 2 August and Wednesday, 4 August respectively. The participants, through the workshops, were sensitized to understand the justice delivery system and monitoring and evaluation process of Village Courts. It shared the findings of the baseline survey related to M&E with the participants. It also experimented the chronicles of training tools to apply for the local stakeholders which were found useful for the participants in advancing village courts.  Md. Gias Uddin Ahmed, DC, Cox’s Bazar spoke at the workshop at Ramu Upazilla as chief guest while Md. Mr. Shahid Md. Saidul Haque, UNO, Ramu chaired the workshop. On the other hand, Mr. Md. Humaun Kabir Khandkar, ADC (General) was present at Chakaria Upazila workshop as Chief Guest. The UP Chairmen, Members of the project intervened areas of district attended the workshops.

2nd Village Courts PIC Meeting held

The 2nd Project Implementation Committee (PIC) Meeting of Village Courts Project was held on Tuesday 27 July in Dhaka with Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, NPD, Village Courts Project & Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD&C presiding over the meeting. Mr. Sarder Asaduzzaman, Project Manager, AVCB project updated PIC members about the progresses of activities, including updates on the NGO engagement process and discussed the Quarterly Action Plan (Jul–Sep’10) including the necessity of revising the TPP. The meeting decided to form a procurement and recruitment committee to run the project activities more smoothly.  The meeting appreciated the idea of VC process card, project website, 500 VC signboards and billboard and suggested installing more billboards at Upazila and UP level. They also suggested ensuring a minimum SSC qualification for Court Assistants. Mr. S.M Arshad Imam, Deputy Director, IMED, Ministry of Planning, Mr. Abdur Rahim Bhuiyan, Deputy Secretary, Planning Division, Mr. Md. Jabid Hossain, Deputy Secretary, Law and Justice Division, MoLJPA, Ms Munira Begum, Senior Assistant Chief, ERD, Mr. Md. Shamsul Karim Bhuiyan, Joint Chief, LGD, Mr. A.K.M Ehsanul Haque, Senior Assistant Secretary, LGD, Ms Nandita Dutta, Programme Analyst, UNDP attended the meeting.

Divisional Workshop on the Potentials and Reforms of Village Courts held in Chittagong and Gopalganj

On Saturday 24 July and Saturday 31 July, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organized two day-long divisional workshops on “The Potentials and Reforms of Village Courts” in Gopalganj and Chittagong respectively.  The workshops aimed to facilitate the legal review process, and the review of the social barriers and limitations facing VCs, as well as developing and printing a reference guide book for VCs with the opinions of judicial officers of different tiers and other stakeholders of village courts. In Gopalgonj, the workshop was presided over by the District and Sessions Judge, Gopalgonj, Mr. Khondoker Kamalujjaman. In Chittagong Mr. Poresh Chandra Sharma, District and Sessions Judge (in charge), Chittagong chaired the workshop.  On both occasions, the National Project Director of the AVCB Project and Additional Secretary, Local Government Division of MoLGRD&C Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan attended the workshops as Chief Guest. He said that government has given much importance to activating village courts to enhance good governance and human rights of vulnerable people across the country. “Judicial officers can play a pivotal role in activating Village Courts through discouraging those cases fall under village court jurisdiction,” he said. The workshops were also attended by Chief Judicial Magistrates, Asst judges, Judicial Magistrates, lawyers, academia, and district administration official among others.

District Workshop of VCs project held in Borguna

As part of continuous efforts to strengthen the local justice services at rural level for the marginalized people including destitute women, the Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project organized a district level workshop on strengthening sensitization and involvement of the stakeholders on Village Courts on Sunday, 18 July.
The workshop was held at Deputy Commissioner’s Conference Room, Borguna aimed at involving the field level high and mid-level government officials and other key stakeholders in the process of implementing the project activities.

While addressing the workshop as chief guest, Mr. Mazibur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner, Borguna district said that village courts, if it runs smoothly, can contribute a lot in establishing justice and good governance at local level. The government has given much priority to activate the village courts in regards to enhance good governance, welfare for the common and vulnerable people of the country, he added. Mr. Md. Abdul Alim, Additional Deputy Commissioner (general), Borguna gave the welcome speech while advocate Md. Shajahan, Mayor, Borguna Municipality, and Md. Sakhawat Hossain, ASP also spoke on the occasion.

 Exploratory visits on piloting Village Courts held in Magura, Rajbari, Faridpur

In a bid to assess potential and feasibility for initiating pilot village courts at few Union Parishads, Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project made 2nd preliminary exploratory visits in 32 Union Parishads of Faridpur Sadar Upazilla, Rajbari Upazilla, Mohammedpur and Upazilla of Magura from Sunday, 20 June to Thursday, 24 June.

The visit having meetings with DCs, ADCs, UNOs, 32 UP Chairmen including other key stakeholders possibilities and foreseeable challenges of piloting village courts in these unions. The extensive visit assessed the existing situation of the village courts including the scenario of UPs’ physical infrastructure. They also sensitized the stakeholders about the potentials of village courts and gained necessary information and suggestions to move further with actions regards to initiate the piloting of village courts.

Meanwhile, the LGD recently decided to initiate the piloting of few village courts having envisaged setting as standard justice delivery points of the village courts procedures.

These pilot VCs can be used as laboratories and learning centers for practising and field testing alongwith other chronicles regarding the smooth interventions of village courts in other UPs. As a part of this program, the first exploratory visit took place at Bhairab, Kishoreganj.

 District level workshop on VCs held in Lalmonirhat

In continuing endeavors to sensitize and bring the key stakeholders on board for functioning Village Courts, the ‘Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh’ project organised a district level workshop on strengthening sensitization and involvement of the stakeholders on Village Courts on Thursday, June 17 at Deputy Commissioner’s (DC’s) office in Lalmonirhat.
The workshop was aimed at involving field -level high and mid-level government officials and other key stakeholders with the implementing process of the project through sensitizing them about the potentials of Village Courts.

Mr. Md. Mokhlesur, Rahman Sarkar, Deputy Commissioner, Lalmonirhat district was present at the workshop as chief guest while Mr. Md. Abu Jubair Hossain, Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) gave welcome address. The Deputy Commissioner assured all-out cooperation in implementing the project activities. 

Project Implementation Committee Meeting of Village Courts Project held

The 1st Project Implementation Committee (PIC) Meeting of Activating Village Courts (AVC) Project held on April 06, 2010 at Conference Room of Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development & Cooperatives (MLGRDC).  Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Village Courts Project & Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD&C presided over the meeting. The PIC members briefly focused about the progresses of the project in the meeting. It also elaborately discussed about the main upcoming activities including National level Round Table Discussion, quarterly action plan (Apr-Jun’10) etc. The meeting also decided to designate one GOB person in each district and Upazila of the project intervention areas to facilitate the project activities through nominating by relevant Deputy Commissioners. 

The meeting was also attended by Ms. Roxana Quader, Deputy Secretary, LGD, Ms. Akhtari Begum, Senior Asst. Secretary, LGD, Ms. Nandita Dutta, Programme Analyst, UNDP, Mr. Masud Karim Ripon, Programme Officer, UNDP, Mr Sarder M. Asaduzzaman, PM, AVC project and others. Mentionable, the Village Courts Project had its 1st Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting on 08 March 2010.

FGDs with Village Court officials and community held

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organized several Focused Group Discussions with Village Courts Officials, community, local representatives, administration and judiciary at six Union Parishads at Chuadanga, Rangpur and Moulvibazar districts from March 26 to 31, 2010. The project arranged these FGDs aiming to boost the awareness of the filed level key stakeholders and actively involve them with the process of activating the village courts at Union Parishad. The project team comprising Mr. Md. Mahboob Morshed, Legal Expert, Mr. Md. Aktar Uddin, Communication Officer and Mr. Hamidul Haque Khan, Training Manager conducted these FGDs.

The discussions disseminated the potentials of village courts and clarified the participants various aspect regarding the function and process of VCs. The participants termed the FGDs very useful as they got oriented about the potentials of VCs having necessary information, and provided insightful guidance regarding in producing project IEC/BCC materials, training needs etc. The FGDs were attended UP Chairman, members, secretaries, imams, teachers, NGOs, media and community leaders. The team also observed the trial sessions at village courts and provided necessary guidelines in conducting VC trial properly.
 
The project team also sat with District Judge, SP, Chief Judicial Magistrate, NDC, Senior Judicial Magistrate, Magistrate, President, BAR Council at district level and Upazila Nirbahi Officer, OC at upazila level and discussed about their active involvement in promoting Village Courts. They expressed their solidarity in endeavors to ensure the justice for the distressed people in rural areas and assured all necessary cooperation in implementing the project activities.

Meanwhile, the project has started activities to strengthen the local justice system through activating Village Courts (VCs) in 500 selected Union Parishads (UP) in the country. It also initiated carrying out comprehensive advocacy activities to involve the community and other key stakeholders actively in efforts to activating the Village Courts through enhancing their awareness on legal rights and overall local justice system. The Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C) is implementing this project with the partnership of UNDP Bangladesh and European Commission.

Divisional Orientation Workshop held on Activating Village Courts Project

Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project organized a divisional orientation workshop for the government officials of Chittagong division held on February 17, 2010 at Chittagong Circuit House Conference Room. The project arranged this workshop aiming to involve the field level high and mid level officials with the process of implementing the project activities through sensitizing them about the potentials in activating the village courts. The workshop indeed sensitized the government officials in focusing the potentials of VC projects with a view to activating the village courts at union parishad.

Mr. Syed Mahboob Hasan, National Project Director, Activating Village Courts Project & Additional Secretary, LGD, MoLGRD&C moderated the workshop while Mr. M. A. N. Siddique, Divisional Commissioner, Chittagong Division presided over the same.

The National Project Director said that the potentials of Village Courts Project in strengthening local justice system in the country is immense, especially it carries instrumental efforts in ensuring justice for the women, poor and marginalized people. He also opined that as per the firmed commitment, the government has taken the issue of activating village courts as a challenge to ensure good governance, welfare for the common and vulnerable people of the country. The divisional commissioner, Chittagong, Deputy Commissioner, Chittagong district also expressed their solidarity in endeavors to ensure the justice for the distressed people in rural areas and assured all necessary cooperation in implementing the project activities.

The workshop was attended by senior and mid level government officers i.e., ADCs, DDLGs of Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar and UNOs from the project interventions areas. Among others, Mr. Masud Karim Ripon, Program Officer, UNDP, Mr. M Sarder Asaduzzaman, Project Manager, VC project, Mr. Hamidul H. Khan, Training Manager also attended at the workshop. The participants termed the workshop very useful as they got oriented about the potentials of VCs having necessary information, which will indeed be effective in delegating their respective roles in activating village courts accordingly. They also addressed the workshop as timely initiative in escalating the leverages to strengthening local justice system in the country and devised some recommendations in boosting the process for activating village courts effectively.

Meanwhile, the project has started activities to strengthen the local justice system through activating Village Courts (VCs) in 500 selected Union Parishads (UP) in the country. It also intends to develop capacity of the Village Courts (VC) members, elected representatives and other relevant officials in a bid to run the VCs smoothly. It also initiated carrying out comprehensive advocacy activities to involve the community and other key stakeholders actively in efforts to activating the Village Courts through enhancing their awareness on legal rights and overall local justice system. The Local Government Division (LGD), Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C) is implementing this 5-year (2009 – 2013) project with the partnership of UNDP Bangladesh and European Commission.