BLAST’s mission is to ensure access to justice in Bangladesh for those living in poverty or facing discrimination, and for marginalized communities in particular. It provides legal aid in the form of information, advice, alternative dispute resolution (ADR) and free legal representation. BLAST also conducts training, workshops, public interest litigation and advocacy campaigns to spread knowledge and awareness of constitutional and legal rights, remedies and available services.

BLAST’s advocacy campaigns target the activation of institutional mechanisms such as the functioning of the courts, the activation of the National Human Rights Commission, the development, amendment and implementation of laws, and ensuring that alternative dispute resolution is accessible and effective. BLAST conducts investigations and holds dialogues with government officials and other key stakeholders in the justice system, including lawyers, medical professionals, law enforcement agencies, and the media. BLAST regularly undertakes public interest litigation to further institutional accountability.

BLAST is especially concerned about access to judicial remedies. In response to a petition filed by BLAST, the High Court ordered the Government of Bangladesh to implement legal provisions for setting up district courts in the three districts of the CHT according to the Chittagong Hill Tracts Regulation Amendment Act, 2003, and to establish Nari-o-Shishu Nirjaton Bishesh Adalat (Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Tribunals) as mandated under the Suppression of Violence against Women and Children Act 2000, as amended in 2003. After BLAST obtained a judgment in its favour, the Government established Courts of the District Judge and an Assistant District Judge in all three districts and also enabled the Tribunals to start functioning.

CASE STUDIES

a) Case Study 1: Arti’s struggle for compensation

Arti Bali, 50, who lives in a village in Noakhali, is a domestic worker. Her son Mohan is an apprentice at a hair salon in the local market. The family’s total monthly income is around BDT 5,000.

In October 2017, around 12:00 pm one day, Mohan and a neighbour, Bikash, 20, were going to the market together. They started an argument, and Bikash accused Mohan of spitting on him and began to beat him up badly. Mohan needed to get treatment for his wounds which cost BDT 3,000. Arti struggled to bear these costs with the help of relatives and neighbours. It took more than ten days for Mohan to regain his health. Having no idea about legal remedies or court procedures and also lacking the financial means, Arti was unable to take any legal steps. Mohan’s uncle who has a shop in the local market learnt about the Village Court through activities such as video shows and rallies which BLAST organised (under a government project on Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh). He informed Arti about this Court and she went to file a case there. She paid a fee of BDT 10 and filed a case within the week against Bikash, seeking BDT 3,000 as compensation.

On receiving a summons, Bikash appeared in the Village Court at the scheduled time. In the presence of the applicant and the Chairman, he acknowledged the incident, apologised and paid damages of BDT 3,000 while promising not to repeat this action in the future. Arti’s case was settled in just five days. Arti used the money she received as damages to repay her debt and bear her day-to-day expenses. The total expense of conducting the case including transportation costs was BDT 90.

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION – JUDGEMENTS

ঢাকা মিরপুর কল্যাণপুর বস্তি বেলতলা মাঠে ব্লাস্ট লিগ্যাল এইড ক্যাম্প অনুষ্ঠিত!

ব্লাস্ট লিগ্যাল এইড ক্যাম্প অনুষ্ঠিত! ঢাকা মিরপুর কল্যাণপুর বস্তি বেলতলা মাঠে ওয়্যারস প্রকল্পের অধীনে ব্লাস্টের আয়োজনে, লাউডাস ফাউন্ডেশনের সহায়তায় ২৩ ফেব্রুয়ারী ২০২৪ইং, শুক্রবার দিনব্যাপী লিগ্যাল এইড ক্যাম্প অনুষ্ঠিত হয়েছে। ক্যাম্পে শ্রম সংক্রান্ত, পারিবারিক, জমিজমা

Preventing Child Marriage

BLAST’s innovation, SafePlus, empowers youth groups to tackle early child marriage by providing leadership, negotiation and legal training, supervised and delivered by experienced paralegals. Details...

PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION – HEARING PENDING

Beggar’s Rehabilitation Case (2011)

Under the “Beggar Rehabilitation and Alternative Employment Programme” the Government engaged ten NGOs to participate in registering persons as beggars, and classifying them into different categories. These would classify people as beggars who are seasonal/irregular, occupational, women, children, aged 1-12, aged 12-50, elderly, and aged 50.

‘Family Courts in CHT’ Case (2009)

BLAST and Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) filed a writ petition challenging Section 1(2) of the Family Court Ordinance, 1984 which bars applicability of the Family Court Ordinance in three hill districts, Rangamati, Khagrachari and Bandarban.

‘Spectrum Sweater Factory Collapse’ Case (2005)

The factory building of Spectrum Sweater Industries Ltd., a nine storied building at Palashbari, Savar, collapsed leaving 69 workers dead and 89 injured. Four injured workers and nine human rights organisations, including BLAST, working collaboratively as the Sramik Nirapatta Forum filed the writ petition impugning the failure of the concerned authorities to discharge their statutory duties and responsibilities relating to building construction, labour safety and welfare.