Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association (Bela) has received the 2020 Tang Prize in "Rule of Law" for its "efforts in furthering the rule of law and its institutions through education and advocacy".
Two other NGOs -- Dejusticia: The Center for Law, Justice and Society from Colombia and The Legal Agenda from Lebanon -- were also named joint winners of the award, according to a press release.
Introduced in 2012, this is the first time any Bangladeshi organisation has received this award given by Taiwan-based The Tang Prize Foundation, said a press release signed by Syeda Rizwana Hasan, chief executive of Bela. The winners of the "Rule of Law" category were announced yesterday.
The awardees will be officially honoured on September 25. In addition to the honours and medals, US $1.33 million will be divided equally among the three organisations.
Besides, they will receive an US $0.33 million in grants for research work, to be distributed equally, added the release.
The Tang Foundation noted that the award-winning organisations have been working consistently and diligently to overcome the crisis of weak rule of law.
Established in 1992, Bela works under adverse conditions where poor environmental quality and corruption continue to ravage the country. Bela has conducted more than 250 public interest lawsuits and advocated for legislative reform for environmental justice. Issues drawn within its ambit ranged as widely as river pollution, industrial pollution, vehicular pollution, illegal construction, labour welfare, illegal mining, reduction of plastic use, wetland protection and prevention of pollution from shipbreaking.
The Tang Prize Foundation believes that Bella's legal battles and awareness-raising activities will be a shining example for future rights activists in the country.