On 8 December 2021, BRAC's gender justice and diversity programme, with the support of BRAC’s social empowerment and legal protection (SELP), organised a roundtable discussion on ‘Strengthening the public prosecution system to ensure justice for sexual and gender-based violence’ in solidarity with the 16 Days of Activism 2021.
The discussion focused on identifying the best practices and potential solutions which can overcome key weaknesses in the public prosecution system in order to ensure justice in cases of violence against women and girls. Therefore it brought together key actors from all stages of the public prosecution system, such as police officers, forensic doctors, public prosecutors, legal aid lawyers, judges, along with government and non-government service providers, development partners and activists.
The discussants at the event included: Md Golam Kibria, Director (Training), Judicial Administration and Training Institute (JATI); Anna Minj, Director, Integrated Development Programme; Advisor, SELP and Protection Cluster, HCMP, BRAC; Jenefa Jabbar, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh; Director, Social Compliance and Safeguarding, BRAC; Nobonita Chowdhury, Director, Gender Justice and Diversity, and Preventing Violence Against Women Initiative, BRAC; Dr Md Shahadat Hossain Mahmud, Director General (Additional Secretary), Health Economics Unit, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare; Md Habibur Rahman Chowdhury, Deputy Director (Finance), Joint District and Sessions Judge, National Legal Aid Services Organization, Law and Justice Division, Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs; Mohammad Tabarak Ullah, Additional Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police, National Emergency Service, Bangladesh Police; Ali Asgor Swapon, Special Public Prosecutor, Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal Tribunal, Dhaka; Reena Debnath, Special Public Prosecutor, Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunal Tribunal, Narsingdi; and Dr Sohel Mahmud, Head, Department of Forensic Medicine, Sir Salimullah Medical College. Family members of a rape survivor and acid violence survivor also spoke at the event, highlighting the challenges and hurdles they faced when seeking justice.
The discussants highlighted the necessity of a number of reforms, including the need to: introduce a victim and witness protection system, incorporate virtual court system in Nari O Shishu Nirjaton Domon Tribunals, ensure gender sensitisation training for justice sector actors (such as judges and public prosecutors) and introduce a compensation scheme for survivors. The discussants also stressed the need to increase budgetary allocation for the public prosecution system and support services for survivors, such as by appointing more judges and prosecutors and establishing One Stop Crisis Centres and shelter homes in every district. All discussants acknowledged the necessity of jointly working together towards strengthening the public prosecution system to ensure justice for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.