Last Updated: 22 August 2013

In June and July 2013, USAID's Justice for All (JFA) Program completed its tour of pilot districts, launching project activities in five districts: Dhaka, Mymensingh, Rajshahi, Rangpur, and Khulna. The JFA team organized Inception Meetings to present JFA objectives and planned activities to District Legal Aid Committee (DLAC) members and stakeholders in all five pilot districts. The first Inception Meeting was held in Mymensingh on April 28, followed by Rajshahi and Rangpur on June 10 & 12, and Dhaka and Khulna on July 3 & 7. The Meetings were well attended by judges and judicial officers, lawyers, and representatives of the DLACs, civil society, and law enforcement, as well as USAID officials. Each Meeting was led by the District Judge and facilitated by the District Legal Aid Officer. The Meetings served as a forum to present the achievements and challenges of the DLACs and to propose solutions that will enable the effective delivery of legal aid services. Common challenges identified across the districts included lack of public awareness of government legal aid and lack of capacity of panel lawyers. Innovative recommendations were also shared, including exchange visits between lawyers in different districts to share best practices and lessons learned, a structure of incentives for panel lawyers, and transportation stipends for poor legal aid seekers.

 

Stakeholders in all districts expressed their appreciation and pledged their support for JFA program activities, expressing enthusiasm for collaborating with JFA to design innovative ways to address shared challenges. Following these successful meetings JFA looks forward to building strong partnerships with the DLACs and legal aid stakeholders in all pilot districts. All findings and recommendations from the Inception Meetings will be combined with the results of the Legal Aid Diagnostic Study to create customized Improvement Plans for each Pilot DLAC. Projected activities for the pilot districts include comprehensive training for the District Legal Aid Officers, material support to enable the DLACs to reach out to stakeholders and citizens, and efforts to strengthen data collection and monitoring and evaluation. One District Legal Aid Officer thanked the JFA Team for the initiative taken in selecting Dhaka as a pilot and commented that the “DLAC will benefit from [July 3rd]’s program and the JFA Project. It is thoroughly exciting to be a part of it.”