Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina yesterday directed the authorities concerned to make sure that trial proceedings are not delayed.
“The delay in trial proceedings has to be reduced because there’re many people in jail who don’t know why they are behind bars. They don’t know what their faults are or how to access legal aid services,” she said.
Addressing the inaugural programme of the National Legal Aid Day 2019 at Hotel Intercontinental in the capital, she said the government has taken steps to address the problem.
“The law ministry will take more effective measures to reduce the delay in trial proceedings,” she said.
Hasina also asked the authorities concerned to ensure justice with swiftness and stern punishment in case of social offences like murder, arson, burning people to death, and rape.
Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anisul Huq presided over the function. Law and Justice Division Secretary Abu Saleh Sheikh Md Zahirul Haque and Director of the National Legal Aid Services Organisation Md Aminul Islam also spoke on the occasion.
With the slogan “Sheikh Hasina’s contributions to the Sonar Bangladesh of Bangabandhu is to provide the free legal aid services”, the day is being observed for the seventh time to make people aware of the government’s free legal services.
ENSURING WOMEN’S PROPERTY RIGHTS
The prime minister urged the law ministry, judges, and other experts to find solutions so that women are not deprived of their inheritance properly rights.
“Yes, we’ll have to abide by Islamic and Muslim laws. It’s right. But why does another person snatch girls’ rights to their fathers’ property?” she said requesting the authorities concerned to look for a solution to this issue.
Hasina said a solution is essential since it gives a rise to many incidents of social injustice.
The prime minister mentioned that she had talks with many religious leaders who told her the rights of daughters can be protected.
She said though the government has introduced the legal aid services for the poor and insolvent people, particularly women.
EXPANDING LEGAL AID SERVICES
The prime minister said the government will take necessary measures to expand the legal aid services to upazila and union levels which will help ease the backlog of cases.
Hasina said the government enacted the Legal Aid Act 2000 to assist the poor and disadvantageous people of society to help them get justice.
But, the BNP-Jamaat alliance had shelved the legal aid programme after coming to power in 2001 and the Awami League government expedited the system when it returned to office in 2009, she added.
The government is providing free legal aid services to insolvent and marginalised people, including acid victims, widows and women abandoned by husbands, physically-challenged people, victims of human trafficking, and people of small ethnic groups, she said.
Hasina said 3,93,790 people were provided legal aid services in the last 10 years, and some 10,668 lawsuits were disposed of under the legal aid system.
In the last four years, the legal aid offices have taken initiatives to dispose of 17,929 cases through the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system or arbitration, she said. Of these, 16,513 litigants got the benefits of peaceful disposal of the cases, she added.
At the function, Legal Assistance to Helpless Prisoners and Persons (LAHPP) received the best non-government organisation award for providing legal aid services, while Advocate Fatema Begum of Narsingdi Legal Aid Office received the best penal lawyer award and Barishal District Legal Aid Committee received the recognition award of the best legal aid office.