Project orientation meeting
with stakeholders at the sub-district level

Date: 11-Aug-2023

Project Goal, Objective, Rationale of undertaking project, Barrier, Relevance to the National Plan, Working area, Beneficiaries, Operational strategy, Restorative Justice, Arbitration Process, Activity, Training, SDG, Sustainability, BftW, Diakonia.

Under the Community-based Dispute Resolution Mechanisms and Improving Gender-just Access to Justice in Bangladesh project there were six Upazila level project orientation meetings have been held in December 2022 with the project key stakeholders in different locations (Banaripara, Kowkhali, Barishal Sadar, Rangpur Sadar, Pirgacha, and Badarganj UPz) of project area. The purpose of the orientation meeting was to disclose and introduce the project information i.e., project goals, objectives, project beneficiaries, and operational strategies so that they can contributed and participated as well as provide valuable opinion and decision for the sake of project success. A total of 344 participants (female-106, male-238) were present in the meetings. After listening the details (activities, objectives, outcome and strategies) of the Access to Justice Project, the participants are share their thoughts and wishes regarding the project interventions. Among them, Nasima Zaman Bobi, Chairman, Rangpur Sadar Upazila Parishad asserted that there are thousands of cases left in the dust in court and police stations due to the bureaucratic complexity and huge lack of human resources. Many cases can be solved informally with the assistance of local civil elite members. In this case, the initiative and strategies (RJ approach and community mediation) of Nagorik Uddyog to resolve informal cases will play a pivotal role in reducing the miseries of vulnerable community members, especially distressed women. But one thing must be kept in mind: this traditional salish system can also be biased due to political pressure or by the local powerful muscleman. Do not be greedy or worry about their abusive power. The members of the Restorative Forum must be courageous, but they also need to be strong and intellectual in their decisions. I wish the project success and will provide all kinds of assistance on behalf of Upazila.

“Once Upon a time, the informal traditional Salish System was very popular at the community level. Though recently many people have come to court to resolve their cases, due to the protracted system, harassment, and corruption (money), people do not keep their full confidence in this formal system, particularly the rural people. Also, the local traditional community mediation is getting politically biased and covered by patriarchal hegemony, and violations of human rights often cause humiliation for the victims, whereas offenders easily get immunity. To get rid of this complicated and biased system, NU initiatives seem positive and effective as they follow the Restorative Justice Mediation Forum and Community mediation strategies as a resolution mechanism. I should appreciate NU’s working strategies, but one thing needs to be remembered: they must work with honesty and courage. So that the vulnerable and poorer women get their justice without any hassle,” said, Md. Maniruzzaman, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Barishal Sadar, Barishal.

Restorative Justice and Mediation Forum Member and Former Chairman of Saynarghunathpur Union, Kowkhali, Pirojpur, Md. Asaduzzaman Pintu argues that generally, we do traditional Salish in a traditional way where many issues arise, and sometimes it’s hard to be neutral due to various factors like political pressure, stereotype mentality, hegemonic behavior, and so on. I like to appreciate NU’s activities and its approaches to resolving informal cases, particularly the Restorative Justice Approaches. However, to really advance this good work, I think the RJMF members need more training in conflict resolution, human rights, and Salish approaches. If they are capacitated, they may contribute a lot to bringing justice to the disadvantaged.

Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Barishal Banaripara Upazila, Miss Fatima Aajrin Tanni opines that “We have received various types of dispute cases, i.e., domestic violence, land disputes, dowry, etc., and among these cases, 95% can be solved locally, whereas local civil society or NGOs can play a pioneering role. This is really appreciating that Nagorik Uddyog has taken on a tremendous project that may reduce our burden and also add value in the sector of Justice. Their work (legal aid assistance, community mediation) for marginalized and disadvantage women and community members shall continue in the long run. I wish the success of this project and am committed to assisting them from the bottom of my heart”.

Beside their active participation in the meeting, many other stakeholders were also present at the orientation event. They are as follows: Fatima Azrin Tonnee, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Banaripara, Barishal, Partha Sarathy Deury_ Upazila Social Welfare Officer, Banaripara, Barishal, Mst. Afroza Begum, Principle, Banaripara Degree College, Zahidul Islam, Sub-Inspector, Banaripara Thana.

Mst. Nasima Zaman Bobi, Chairman Sadar Upazila, Rangpur, Md. Masudar Rahman, Vice-Chairman, Sadar Upazila, Rangpur, Md. Sahinur Alam, Officer In Charge (Police)-Investigation, Kotwali Thana, Rangpur, Shamima Akhter Shila, Panel lawyer, NU, Dr. Md. Tanzirul Islam Upazila, Health Complex, Rangpur, Md. Shabul Islam, Assistant Inspector, Upazila Social Welfare Office, Sadar Upazila, Rangpur

Maniruzzaman Mia, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Barishal sadar Upazila, Barishal, Sharmin Sultana, Upazila Social Welfare Officer, Barishal Sadar, Advocate Sahida Talukder, Coordinator, Blast Barishal, Ranjit Datta- Chief Executive, DPDO, Rafiqul Islam, Executive Rich to Unrich, Md Israil Pandit, Member, RJMF Forum, Barishal sadar.

Shamsul Arefin, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Pirgacha Upazila, Rangpur, Md. Abu Naser Shah Mohammad Mahabubur Rahman, Chairman- Pirgacha Upazila, Rangpur, Md. Masumur Rahman, In charge of Pirgacha Thana, Mst. Tanjina Afroz, Vice-Chairman, Pirgacha Upazila Parishad, Md Abul Kalam Azad, Chairman, Kandi Union Pirgacha.

Abu Sayed, Upazila Nirbahi Officer, Badarganj Upazila, Rangpur, Fazley Rabby, Chairman, Badarganj Upazila Parishad, Sabrina Begum, Women Affairs Officer, Badarganj Upazila, Ayub Ali Sarker, Commando, Badarganj Upazila Parishad. Also, many civil society members, project beneficiaries, and project staff from each upazila attended the meeting.

At the end of the project orientation meeting, the stakeholders are also provided some recommendations. These are;

  • Should be carried out in the long run; otherwise, project sustainability may hamper
  • Should be trained up by RJMF members and CPs so that they can give their best effort and can apply their tactical knowledge in the dispute resolution meeting.
  • Continuous communication should be carried out with the local thana and other government and non-government actors (UNO, Chairman, SWO, CSOs, NGOs).
  • should continue the School Campaign activity as it brings good results against early marriage, domestic violence, and legal assistance.
  • Provide ID cards to the Forum Members so that they can continue their work smoothly.
  • should spread out NU activities to the wider communities so that they can be more aware of the project and take advantage of