SPIYCE is an EMK small grantee 2019 Empowerment through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) project which aims to train undergraduate students in effective community engagement. SPIYCE is inspired by the model of simulation led by the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) of the Harvard Law School. They aim to train participants in community-level engagement, rights-based fact-finding operation and creating community leaders in the area of street law.
SPIYCE trained 24 Law and Criminology students from Dhaka, Sylhet and Chittagong on Human Rights Fact Finding investigation. The participants engaged in this six-month project and as a result, acknowledged and trained 10 potential community leaders from two of the most underprivileged communities in Dhaka, The Transgenders (Hijras) and the dalits. The idea behind choosing these communities is to make them aware of their rights and steps to take in case of violation of their rights.
After a theoretical training on how to design fact finding missions, interviewing skills, setting questionnaires, trust building with the victims, and how to differentiate fact from perception. The trainees took part in 40-minute simulation sessions packed with games and other activities. These simulations helped the trainees to get an idea of practical life scenarios.
The trainees were divided into two batches. One worked with the transgender community and the other with dalits. The trainees investigated the human rights violations of the transgender community under four categories: freedom of religion, right to identity, right to employment and disintegration from family. The second batch worked with the dalit community under three categories: discrimination and untouchability, right to education, and right to employment. Based on their interaction with these communities, the trainees prepared reports which were published at the closing ceremony at EMK Center August 31. Mohammad Rezaur Rahman, Assistant Professor, Law and Human Rights, University of Asia Pacific, said, “SPIYCE was a pilot project to use theoretical knowledge to try to solve real problems in the society, and ELCOP will take on similar projects in the future.”
They selected 10 members from the transgender and dalit communities, who received street law training on human rights to serve as lawyers in their own communities.
The participants received training from some of the leading human rights experts of Bangladesh, including Advocate Sultana Kamal and Dr Mizanur Rahman, Former Chair, National Human Rights Commission Bangladesh.
The project was designed and directed by Arpeeta Shams Mizan, Assistant Professor of Law, DU, who graduated from Harvard Law School. “A common misconception is that only business leaders are effective leaders, but anyone who is contributing to impactful change in the society should be considered a leader,” she said.