NLASO and JFA Host Civil Society Consultation on Legal Aid Services Act Amendment

Last Updated: 14 February 2014

 

Date: 1 January 1970 - 1 January 1970

Venue:

 

NLASO Director, USAID Democracy and Governance Deputy Director, JFA COP

On January 30, the National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) and USAID’s Justice for All (JFA) Program jointly hosted a civil society consultation to review the amendments to the Legal Aid Services Act of 2000 (LASA). The JFA Program provided technical guidance and drafting assistance to NLASO to modernize the LASA beginning in April 2013 and culminating in its adoption by Bangladeshi Parliament in November 2013.

 

The amendments formalize the new position of Legal Aid Officer responsible for providing legal advice and facilitating access to legal aid at the District-level. The amendments also raise the ceilings for eligibility for legal aid, introduce mediation services, strengthen monitoring and reporting of government legal aid funds, and create a legal aid committee at the Supreme Court level to provide representation for poor justice seekers on appeal.

 

The objectives of the consultation were to introduce important LASA amendments to civil society legal aid providers and others working in the area of legal aid, legal literacy and public legal awareness and provide a forum for discussion. Key civil society stakeholders attended the consultation, including JFA sub-grantees and other legal aid service providers and NGOs. Special guests included NLASO Director Syed Aminul Islam,NLASO Deputy Director Jashim Uddin, and USAID Bangladesh Deputy Director of Democracy and Governance, Jason Smith.

 

The program began with a welcome by NLASO Director Islam, followed by introductory remarks from JFA COP Sandra Feinzig. JFA DCOP Sharmeen Farouk provided an overview of the amendment process, followed by a substantive presentation by Mr. Islam on the contents of the amendments and their implications. During the discussion period, attendees identified key recommendations for implementation of the LASA Amendments, including a training module for the general public and the incorporation of gender sensitization training. The issue of GO-NGO collaboration was also raised by several participants and acknowledged as an area to be expanded to support the growing demand for legal aid services throughout the country.


NLASO Director Islam explained that there is still a need for more rules, policies and regulations to be issued to fully implement the amendments to the LASA. In his closing remarks, he thanked USAID and JFA for their continuing support as well as civil society’s contributions to the development of the LASA and amendments and the provision of legal aid throughout the country. Mr. Islam finally expressed his hope for future GO-NGO cooperation in meeting the needs of all justice seekers and also hoped for additional civil society consultations in the future as the policy and regulations related to the amendments are developed.