Bangladesh: Legal Aid Now Available at the Supreme Court
   

On September 8, 2015, USAID’s Justice for All Program, implemented by NCSC, and the National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO), launched the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office with an inauguration ceremony chaired by the Chief Justice of Bangladesh. The event, organized at the Supreme Court Auditorium, was attended by more than 400 justice sector and legal aid stakeholders, including the NLASO Director, the Chairman of the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee, the Attorney General of Bangladesh, justices of the Supreme Court, judges, lawyers, representatives of the Ministry of Law, civil society actors, and the media. Speaking at the event, the USAID Mission Director in Bangladesh, Ms. Janina Jaruzelski, noted that the launch “is a step forward, as thousands of poor people will have critically important legal help to resolve major issues in serious cases. This is a tremendous advance in making justice truly available for all.”

The opening of the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office will ensure the delivery of free legal aid at the highest level of the formal justice sector. Any eligible applicant can now access free legal aid by submitting an application to the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office. After reviewing the application, a lawyer is appointed to represent the applicant free of cost. The government will pay the honorarium directly to the advocate. The Supreme Court Legal Aid Office is now available for writ, civil and criminal appeals. Since the formation of the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee, the Justice for All Program has already supported stakeholders in the development of the necessary forms for the delivery of services to eligible applicants.

USAID’s Justice for All Program is a five-year initiative funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and implemented by the National Center for State Courts to improve access to justice, gender equity, and legal empowerment for Bangladeshi citizens. For more information, see www.justice-bd.org