In 2011, HRLS partnered with Omidyar Network, a philanthropic investment firm and BRAC USA to pilot a new property rights initiative (PRI). In this project, we have so far developed a revised human rights and legal education curriculum which shifts the paradigm from a purely legal literacy focus to one of rights articulation, centred on property rights. We have also trained 192 land measurers, or land entrepreneurs, who provide services in the form of boundary determination, possession confirmation, partitioning, and small plot assessments. The Property Rights Initiative is now being scaled up in four more districts across Bangladesh.
Ministry of Women and Children
Citizen’s Initiatives Against Domestic Violence
In 2010, HRLS joined The Citizen’s Initiatives against Domestic Violence, a group of like-minded organisations responsible for the drafting of the Domestic Violence (Protection and Prevention) Act, 2010. The rules will also apply to the implementation of this Act in 2011. This is an on-going process which has progressed to the drafting and consultation process of the above law and Rules.
Membership to Distract Legal Aid Committees (DLAC) and National Legal Aid Services Organisation
In 2011, HRLS joined the network of the government administered District Legal Aid Committee (DLAC) through the National Legal Aid Services Organisation (NLASO). HRLS currently holds a combined membership and observership status to this committee across Bangladesh. Through this role, the programme will assist the government to enhance its capacity in providing legal aid services in Bangladesh’s 61 districts, which comprises HRLS coverage areas. HRLS collaboratively engages itself in the promotion of this committee’s work via various communications materials.
Improvement of the Real Situation of Overcrowding in Prisons (IRSOP)
Ministry of Home Affairs
In February 2009, the HRLS programme, as an implementation partner, piloted a project on the criminal justice system and prison reform, designed to help overcome the problem of overcrowding in the Dhaka Central Jail and Kashimpur Central Jails part two and three, through a paralegal advisory model. This project is authorised by the Ministry of Home Affairs and receives financial and technical assistance from The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. Since May 2010, HRLS has received supplementary support from AusAid’s Direct Aid programme towards providing legal aid services to under trial prisoners. This project’s duration is until February 2014.
BRAC Research and Evaluation Division
HRLS hosted a presentation and discussion on 19th July 2012 based on the findings of a study to discern the root causes behind parental or familial decisions to send children into domestic work. The study was conducted by BRAC’s research and evaluation division. This alliance is part of a broader project based on spreading awareness on, and upholding the rights of child domestic workers across Bangladesh funded by Gift2Asia.
Acid Survivors’ Foundation
HRLS provides support to survivors of acid-throwing. We ensure legal counselling, fact-finding investigations, and case processing with the aid of panel lawyers across the country, in association with our partner, the Acid Survivor’s Foundation.
Safety in the Workplace
The Safety and Rights Society is an implementation partner of HRLS, who funded an initiative related to deaths and injuries of construction workers and their families in the Labour Court. HRLS’ role is to ensure on-site investigation and reporting via family contact to help file compensation claims in the interest of these families.
Migrant Workers’ Rights
In October 2013, BRAC HRLS programme and the BRAC Migration programme began a partnership after signing an official memorandum of understanding. Under this agreement, HRLS will make their services available to 123 migrant workers, whose cases will be referred to HRLS’s legal aid clinics across 17 districts in Bangladesh. Providing these services is part of HRLS’ agenda to protect and preserve the rights of migrant workers in the face of exploitation from devious brokers. The initiative is funded by the BRAC Migration programme and will extend until April 2015.
Global Human Rights Defence
In July 2013, BRAC HRLS began a partnership with Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD), an international human rights NGO based in The Hague, Netherlands. The organisation promotes and advocates human rights for minorities and marginalised groups that face human rights violations. As per its Legal Assistance Fund, GHRD has given HRLS a grant to provide legal aid support in at least 10 cases involving GHRD’s target groups. These guidelines include indigenous groups and those marginalised for their religion, sexual orientation, as well as human rights defenders whose rights have been violated. HRLS will carry out periodic updates regarding case proceedings and the agreement is based on a six-month trial period, which is expected to end in December 2013.
BRAC HRLS joined Aarong’s Artisans Development Initiative in November 2012. The initiative is part of a combined BRAC-wide effort to provide comprehensive services to Aarong artisans in production centres across Bangladesh. HRLS will provide legal literacy services to artisans, including other grassroots women, so that they can protect themselves in the face of discrimination and exploitation within their communities. Services will be provided as per each individual case and thus far, the project has been scaled-up across eight districts.