Annual Report

2 0 0 5

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)

 

Written by : Shabnam Nadiya
Photography : ASK Unit
Cover Design : Robin Ahsan/Shrabon
Published by : Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK)
26/3 Purana Paltan Line, Dhaka
Printed by : Shahitya Prokash, 87 Purana Paltan, Dhaka

Acknowledgements
ASK acknowledges the work of all its staff and members, which has been the basis of this report.
This consolidated report draws upon the individual reports provided by each unit. The activities of several units are included under separate clusters which describe ASK's broad-based strategies for creating awareness of human rights and legal aid as well as other forms of support and advocacy for law and policy reform.
Annual reports are a process of making sense out of the many different activities and the many experiences that form ASK's contribution to promoting a culture of rights and responsibilities of all citizens. The contribution of all the staff and members in preparing this report and in commenting upon it needs to be recognized.
ASK also acknowledges the important contribution of Ms. Shabnam Nadiya in writing this report.
The final effort of composing, formatting and devising the lay-out of this report was the responsibility of Anil Mandal. Other computer operators who composed the first draft were Mohsin Ali, Abedul Mowla, Mosharaf Hossain and Rahana Sultana. The Administration and Communication Units assisted with its production.

Md. Asaduzzaman, Advocate
Secretary General

Acronym

ADMIN : Administration Unit
ADR : Alternative Dispute Resolution
ADV : Advocacy Unit
AM : Area Manager
ASC : Ain Shohayota Committee
ASK : Ain o Salish Kendra
BARD : Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development
BRAC : Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee
CAT : Convention Against Torture
CEDAW : Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
CHT : Chittagong Hill Tracts
COMM : Communication Unit
CRC : Convention on the Rights of the Child
DIC : Drop-In Centres
DOC : Documentation Unit
EC : Executive Committee
FC : Foundation Course
FGD : Focus Group Discussion
FIN : Finance and Accounts Unit
GA : Gender Awareness
GJHR : Gender Justice and Human Rights
GSJ : Gender and Social Justice Unit
HR : Human Rights
HRD : Human Resources Development
HRV : Human Rights Violation
IBD : Issue-Based Drama
ICC : International Criminal Court
INV : Investigation Unit
LEB : Local Elected Body
LIT : Litigation Unit
LL : Literacy Learning
NGO : Non-Governmental Organizations
NGOAB : NGO Affairs Bureau
OCD : Orientation Course on Democracy
OUT : Outreach Unit (Set up Legal Clinics)
PTs : Participants
PIL : Public Interest Litigation
PNGOs : Partner Non-Governmental Organizations
PP : Project Proposal
PSH : Psycho-Social Help Unit
PT : Popular Theatre Unit
PWC : Protection of Working Children Unit
RES : Research Unit
RM : Regional Manager
RSS : Regional Sector Specialist
RRM : Rapid Response and Mediation Unit
SAF : Staff Appraisal Format
SC : Study Circles
SOL : Social Opinion Leader
SR : Service Rule
SSHH : Support Services and Halfway Home Unit
STT : School Theatre Team
TOR : Terms of Reference
TOT : Training of Trainers
TRN : Training Unit
ULTT : Union Level Theatre Team
UN : United Nations
UZLTT : Upazila Level Theatre Team
VAW : Violence against Women
WLUML : Women Living under Muslim Laws

Glossary

Shalish An informal, traditional system of mediation used to settle marital and land disputes outside the court.
Shalishkar Mediators who conduct shalish . Traditionally, religious leaders, local elected representatives, school teachers, NGO workers, etc.
Hilla Intervening marriage often imposed in cases where the husband orally divorces the wife repents later and wants to take her back. Although in practice in some places, it has no legal basis in law in Bangladesh.
Fatwa Arabic for opinion by a person learned in Shariah . In Bangladesh villages, it is pronounced by persons who have no legal authority; they do not clarify an ambiguous legal situation but weigh up evidence, which traditionally was never a function of a fatwa giver. Increasingly, fatwas are being used to bolster the authority of the shalish . Some punitive fatwas have been issued against women for being divorced, for working with NGOs or even working outside the home. Some punishments are inhuman, such as, flogging, buried up to waist and stoned to death, beating with shoes, etc.
MND Manabadhikar Nattya Dals are union base voluntary, theatre teams trained by the Popular Theatre Unit to perform social dramas on local human rights and legal issues. The members also include women.
MNP Manabadhikar Nattya Parishads are Upazila based federations of union based theatre teams.
MSP Manabadhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad are voluntary teams of human rights monitors formed under by the Gender & Social Justice Programme at the union and Upazila levels.
MNS The Manabadhikar Nari Samaj is formed by women members of each MSP who work with NGOs such as CARE, or are members of Village Defense Party, etc.
Village Court Courts, that are published under the Village Court Ordinance 1976. Any party to the dispute may in the prescribed manner and on payment of the prescribed fee, apply to the Chairman of the Union Parishad concerned for the constitution of a village court for trial of a case. Constituted by a chairman and two members to be nominated in prescribed manner by each party. It has no powers to pass a sentence of imprisonment, but may order the accused to pay to the aggrieved person compensation of an amount not exceeding five thousand taka.
Legal Aid Fund This fund has been established under The ‘Aingoto Shahayata Prodan Ain, 2000' ( Legal Aid Fund) Act was enacted on 26 January, 2000 to provide legal aid for persons who are insolvent, distressed and unable to bear the expenses on their own. Provides subsidies for lawyer's fees, cost of cases and supplementary charges. The District Judge is the President and Bar Association Secretary is the Secretary of the Committee, which includes District Magistrate, Police Super, Public Prosecutor, Representative of Department of Women and Child Affairs, Department of Social Welfare, Local NGOs and others. Lawyers have to submit quarterly reports to the Committee about their cases.
MAP Manabadhikar Ainjibi Parishad (Human Rights Lawyers' Forum) formed under the GSJ Programme, to help victims avail Government Legal Aid Fund as referred by the MSP.
PNGOs ASK has a Dhaka-based office. In order to carry out local level activities, e.g. advocacy, training, legal aid, etc. it selects like-minded PNGOs at the community level. ASK provides technical support, while these organizations organize project activities. ASK provides training on family laws, human rights, women's rights etc. to these organizations' staff and group members/leaders. PNGO's are women-headed organaizations chosen by ASK to develop women leadership at the grassroots level.

ASK Project Tree

Goal
Rule of Law based on principles of democracy, human rights, justice and gender equity.

Purpose:
- Increase access to justice
- Ensure accountability
- Eliminate all forms of discrimination

Outputs

Result

Activity

 

 

Output -1

Community activism for Gender and Social Justice and human rights promoted.

1.1 Raise awareness on Human Rights, Law and Gender relations.
1.2 Promote gender and social justice
1.3 Facilitate community activism on Human Rights through Action Theatre.

 

 

Output-2

Access to justice increased.

2.1 Provide legal aid service
2.1.1 Set up legal clinics (Dhaka & outside)
2.1.2 Convene and conduct mediation.
2.1.3 Conduct cases (litigation)
2.2 Provide support services
2.3 Protection of working children.
2.4 Psycho Social counseling.

 

Output-3

Accountability and good governance ensured.

3.1 Research
3.2 Advocacy for law and policy reform.
3.3 Media Campaign and Communication

 

Output-4

Human Rights situation monitored.

4.1 Investigate and monitor Human Rights situation
4.2 Document HR situation and disseminate information.

 

Output-5

Effective program management ensured.

5.1 Develop Human Resource
5.2 Monitor and Evaluate Programme
5.3 Develop and implement effective and efficient financial system.

Ain o Salish Kendra : An Overview
Established in 1986, Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) is a legal aid and human rights organization. It provides free legal aid to the disenfranchised and takes up class actions in defense of human rights. ASK emphasizes a non-partisan approach to human rights. ASK's programs seek to promote community activism, access to justice, accountability and good governance. ASK has been supported with funds from several donors, but it has also made efforts to sustain its programs through replication by PNGOs and government agencies, or fundraising through training, publication sales and provision of expert services.

Thematic priorities:
-
Promote community activism for gender and social justice and human rights
- Increase access to justice
- Ensure accountability and good governance
- Monitor Human Rights situation
- Ensure effective program management

Key information on Units: ASK's programs are carried out by 15 units and 1 component (Counseling). They form five clusters corresponding to the expected outputs in the project tree. Cluster work addresses various dimensions of the objectives listed above and helps reinforce the impact of individual units by building on each other's efforts.

Registration
-
l Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms under Societies Registration Act, 1860 on September 20, 1986.
- NGO Affairs Bureau under Foreign Donation Regulation Ordinance, 1978 on June 28, 1993.
- In special consultative status with UNECOSOC since July 31, 1998.

Members
- Founding members: 9 (4 women and 5 men)
- l General members: 28 (17 women and 11 men)
- Executive Committee members: 9 (5 women and 4 men, 1 Founder Member and 8 General Members).

Staff
Total: 174 (including regular, contract, full time and part-time), Women: 123, Men: 51

Result 1. Community activism for Gender and Social Justice and Human Rights
Training Unit (TRN)
Gender and Social Justice Unit (GSJ)
Popular Theatre Unit (PTU)

Result-2: Access to Justice
Legal Clinics(Outreach) Unit (OUT)
Rapid Response and Mediation Unit (RRMU)
Litigation Unit (LAU)
Support Services and Half Way Home (SSHH)
Protection for Working Children Unit (PWC)
Counseling in Psycho-Social Help (PSH)

Result 3: Accountability and Good Governance
Research Unit (RES)
Advocacy Unit (ADV)
Media and Communication Unit (COMM)

Result 4: Human Rights Situation Monitoring
Investigation Unit (INV)
Documentation Unit (DOC)

Result 5: Effective Program Management
Administration Unit (ADMIN)
Finance and Accounts Unit (FIN)

Projects:
ASK's programmatic goals are achieved through several projects:
a. Promoting Gender Equity, Human Rights and Democracy
b. Facilitating Community Activism for Gender and Social Justice and Human Rights
c. ASK-BRAC Joint Legal Aid Programme
d. Protection of Full time Domestic Child Workers from Abuse and Exploitation

Legal Aid Clinics
ASK operates five Legal Clinics within Dhaka. Specific locations of the Dhaka Legal Aid Clinics are: Shah Ali Bagh, Mirpur, Johnson Road, Goran, Kamrangichar. The number of Legal Clinics functioning out of Dhaka(in the Dhaka and Rajshahi Divisions) in collaboration with BRAC is 215.

Drop-in Centres for Working Children: 8
* Bashabo : 1
* Mirpur : 1
* Mohammadpur : 2
* Goran : 1
* Shantibagh : 1
* Shajahanpur : 1
* Ekota (Johnson Road) : 1

Drop-in Centres for full time Child Domestic Workers: 8
* Dhanmondi : 2
* Kalabagan : 3
*Kalyanpur : 2
*Mohammadpur : 1

Program Coverage
ASK implements its programs in twelve upazilas of eleven districts to promote and encourage community activism for Gender and Social Justice and human rights. ASK collaborates with BRAC to enable its group members to access justice in 185 rural locations in the Dhaka and Rajshahi divisions

Partner NGOs (12)
Adarsha Shapla Unnayan Sangstha (ASUS), Naogaon
Bandhan Society, Kishoreganj Sadar
Gana Unnayan Kendra (GUK), Gaibandha
Mohila Unnayan Foundation (MUF), Faridpur
Mukti Nari o Shishu Unnayan Shangstha, Kushtia.
Pabna Prostisruti (PP), Pabna
Shabolomby Unnayan Samity (SUS), Purbadhala, Netrokona
Social Association For Rural Advancement (SARA), Mymensingh
Social Development Organaization (SDO), Narayganj
Welfare Efforts (WE), Jhinaidha
Uttaran Mohila Shangstha, Sirajganj (SUMS)
Women Development Organaization (WDO), Netrokona Sadar

Donors
NETZ- Germany
NOVIB- The Netherlands
Save the Children Fund (Sweden)
The Royal Norwegian Embassy- Dhaka
The Swedish Embassy- Dhaka

National Networks
Action Network to Combat Violence Against Women (ANCVAW) , is a coalition of 14 NGOs of Bangladesh committed to work together at community, district and national levels for the recognition of domestic violence as a public and human rights issue and promote the criminalization of domestic violence against women.

Bangladesh Shishu Adhikar Forum (BSAF), formed by 170 member organizations that campaign for the implementation of the Child Rights Convention.

Beijing Plus Five for Women's Rights, formed by a large coalition of women's organizations to implement the Beijing Platform for Action, which has been adopted by the Government of Bangladesh. A National Policy for the Advancement of Women was adopted by the government in consultation with many women's groups including this network.

Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP) coordinates campaigns for the right to shelter of slum dwellers and mobilizes them to exercise their rights .

Sramik Nirapotta Forum - A network of 14 organizations concerned with safety at the workplace. The organizations came together after the collapse of the building that housed Spectrum Sweater Industries in Polashbari,  Savar.  The Forum has campaigned for workers' safety through the media, supported workers injured in industrial accidents and has filed class actions to establish corporate responsibility for workers deaths and injuries and the families of workers killed.

Samajik Protirodh Committee is a network of women's groups in Bangladesh formed to resist violence against women, by both state and non-state actors, to campaign for democratic participation of women in public decision making and to resist the forces of fundamentalism and communalism. Secretariat is located in Bangladesh Mahila Parishad.

International Networks
The Asian Network for the International Criminal Court (ANICC)

Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD) has formed after the Nairobi Conference. It is based in Chiang Mai, Thailand and networks with legal and women's rights organizations in Asia and the Pacific to campaign for women's rights, to create awareness of rights and to draft recommendations for legal reform.

The Asian Migrants' Forum is based in Hong Kong. It raises issues concerning workers' rights and fair conditions of work through creating awareness of rights of migrant workers and creating structures of support. ASK has submitted a report on conditions of migrant workers from Bangladesh.

End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes - ECPAT International, based in Bangkok is the world's largest NGO dedicated to fighting the commercial sexual exploitation of children. It has member NGOs in 70 countries around the world.

Forum Asia (FA ) based in Bangkok, Thailand promotes human rights through training, education and awareness of international standards for different constituencies.

International Women's Rights Action Watch (IWRAW) based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia promotes women's rights under UNCEDAW and other UN Conventions and supports organizations to prepare shadow reports for treaty bodies.

South Asians for Human Rights is a broad network of human rights activists and organisations based in South Asia.  It is led by I.K. Gujral as Chairperson and  Asma Jahangir as Co-Chairperson.  In 2005 it formed a South Asian Commission for Protection of the Rights of the Minorities, whose members have visited four countries so far to study the human rights situation. 

South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR) , a sub-regional Human Rights Organization consists of 35 member organizations.

Women Living Under Muslim Laws (WLUML) is an international network of women's organizations that have engaged with problems faced by women in contending with Islamic laws . ASK has prepared documents on how laws affect women's lives in Bangladesh.


Introduction to the Annual Report 2005
The year 2006 marks the completion of ASK's 20 th year as a human rights organization. A journey which began in 1986 by 9 very committed social thinkers, ASK's passage to its present form, perhaps like any other activist organization that deals with cutting edge human rights issues, has been far from smooth. Having to wade through rather rough streams for most of the time, ASK has had to learn to strengthen itself both from within and with others.

To sustain this process of mutual strengthening, ASK's basic effort was to increase the number of activists and their capacity of human rights activism in Bangladesh. As a result, ASK now has a group of reliable workers to carry out its programmes at various levels. It also has a dependable network to share responsibilities in the national, regional and international spheres. This fundamentally accounts for whatever achievement ASK has made over the past three years - a time assessed by many to be one of the worst for human rights, law and order, and functioning of democratic systems and institutions in the country. At no other time have we had to confront anti state and anti people groups such as Bangla Bhai's or state sponsored perpetrators of violence, such as the formidable ‘elite' mixed force, RAB (Rapid Action Battalion). Moreover, with every protest made against the violation of rights, the Government has expended more energy and effort to vilify the defenders of rights rather than bring the perpetrators to justice. Persistent calls for remedy from the rights defenders in most cases were received either with complete indifference, denial or vindictive reactions. ASK and many of its network partners had to strategise actions very carefully to ensure that its actions would not visit further vulnerability upon victims and survivors.

Furthermore, geopolitical developments also contributed to a shift away from a culture of human rights and democracy. In the name of attack on terrorism, the world witnessed the re-generation of terrorism and a severe curtailment of civil liberties which has had harmful repercussions on almost every other country. Being a part of the world system, Bangladesh also had to suffer the impacts of these shifts. Rise in religious fundamentalisms, militarism, and an aggressive culture of appropriation in the political and economic fields did not spare those even in the remotest parts of the earth.

However, ASK tried its best to respond to every call for assistance to the disenfranchised. It has done so as much as possible within its mandate and capacity. The detailed narratives presented in this report will relate to interventions made in the specific areas of assistance. They will also give a picture of the extent of successes and failures as experienced by all those involved in this process.

A continuous effort to learn from past experience and shortcomings remains very high on ASK's agenda. This has been the case from the very beginning. We cherish our success stories and strive to translate them into affirming commitments to work with much more determination and dedication in future. ASK welcomes each year as the dawning of new hopes and possibilities and renews its pledges to join hands in restoring hope in people's mind.

I gratefully thank all my colleagues in ASK for the above. My heartfelt gratitude goes to my respected members of the board and the general members whose constant support and encouragement helped ASK survive all adversities and stand out as an institution of trust for the disadvantaged no matter how humble. I wish all of them a very happy 2006 and hope to continue the enjoyable and cooperative relationship from which we have only to benefit in our joint efforts to achieve a human life for everyone in the country as well as in the world.

Sultana Kamal
Executive Director

Executive Summary
Established in 1986, Ain o Shalish Kendra (ASK) provides free legal aid to the disenfranchised. ASK emphasizes a non-partisan approach to human rights through community activism, human rights monitoring and ensuring good governance. ASK's programs are donor-funded but efforts to sustain these programs are made through replication of selected programs by PNGOs and government agencies, or fundraising through training, publication sales and provision of expert services. ASK currently has Fifteen units and One component (Counseling) in operation. A total of 174 staff (including regular, contract, full time and part-time) are currently employed by ASK.

ASK implements its programs in twelve upazilas across the country. ASK collaborates with BRAC to enable the later's group members to access justice in 185 rural locations in the Dhaka and Rajshahi divisions.

Result 1: Community activism for Gender and Social Justice and Human Rights
To ensure deep-rooted Human Rights awareness leading to active engagement, ASK's involvement begins at the lowest level of governance through union based programs.

The Training Unit organizes and conducts courses and workshops in subjects such as family law, gender equality, violence against women, collective responsibility and activism, mediation and advocacy techniques.

The Gender and Social Justice Unit (GSJ) focuses on mobilizing and developing community activism, raising awareness of gender and social justice, encouraging fair decisions and more women's participation in shalish or mediation, etc. GSJ is instrumental in developing and sustaining various community based organizations that promote and protect human rights.

The Popular Theatre Unit (PTU) mobilizes youth in the community as theatre activists. It organizes and trains them to enact issue based plays so as to sensitize their community. A school based HR education program covering 18 schools has been included under this approach.

Result 2: Access to Justice
Access to justice – through increasing access to legal support and related extra-legal services has been an over arching goal for ASK.
The Outreach Unit (OUT) functions in collaboration with BRAC. This unit conducts free legal aid clinics in Dhaka as well in program areas in the rural areas.
The Rapid Response and Mediation Unit (RRMU) was established to provide the disenfranchised, particularly poor women, workers, working children and minorities with speedy and proactive access to justice.
The Litigation Unit resorts to litigation as a dispute resolution mechanism.
The services and facilities provided by the Support Services and Halfway Home (SSHH) Unit complements the extensive legal aid program of ASK by providing medical, economic, psychological and social support to survivors of domestic violence, rape, trafficking, etc.
The Protection for Working Children (PWC) Unit provides working children with basic education and training, healthcare, recreational opportunities, legal support.
Through the Psycho-social Help component, ASK has broken new ground in the survivor assistance and rehabilitation scenario of Bangladesh, espousing the view that emotional well-being is just as important as physical health.

Result 3: Accountability and Good Governance ensured
Research and proactive dissemination of its findings is a prime method of monitoring the dynamics of discrimination and identifying socio-political and economic concerns from a rights's perspective. The Research Unit conducts research on various topics of concern to ASK.
The Advocacy Unit works to protect the fundamental rights of the citizens through advocacy and public interest litigation
The Media and Communication Unit conducts media campaigns, press briefings, and publishes a quarterly Bulletin, reports and other publications. The unit also looks after the ASK website.

Result 4: Human Rights Situation Monitored
Constant monitoring draws public attention to human rights violations. The Investigation Unit monitors various institutions (including hospitals, police stations and courts) on a regular basis and interviews under-trial prisoners when permitted.
Computerized data on legal and HR literature is catalogued, classified and archived by the Documentation Unit for research, publication, HR reports, case filing, writ petitions and media reporting. This Unit is also responsible for dissemination and distribution of ASK Bulletins, reports and other publications.

Result 5: Effective program management ensured
The day to day functioning of ASK as well as the long-term programmatic overview is taken care of by the Administration Unit and the Finance and Accounts Unit.
The Administration Unit's primary role is to provide support (such as administration, information technology, human resources development and logistics) for implementation of ASK's programs.
The F inance and Accounts Unit is responsible for all aspects of organisational and program finance monitors program expenditure and provides monthly reports on budget expenditure by Units.


Overall Outcome
ASK's concept of legal aid is holistic covering legal and extra-legal services and involves dispute resolution, litigation, monitoring of law enforcement, advocacy and public campaigns and physical and psychological support for victims of violence. Its goal is not only to provide help is individual cases, but through an all-encompassing approach to support demands for a fair judicial system, increased public participation in preventing HR violations and reduced community tolerance of violence and discrimination. The protection of human rights and concern regarding violations are issues regularly covered in the media; ASK has played a strong role in making this possible
ASK's three pronged strategy awareness, transformation and involves bringing about action results in partnership with local organizations and interaction with local representatives and officials. This has improved the capacity for community activism to demand and perform accountability and protect rights.

 

Chapter One
Community activism for Gender and Social Justice and Human Rights


Training Unit
Gender and Social Justice Unit
Popular Theatre Unit

Raising critical awareness of inputs at community level as well as an understanding of how laws and policies impact on gender relations is integral to improving the overall Human Rights situation. These actions also stimulate community potential for voluntary activism through sensitization and strengthening of local elected bodies and community based organizations. Feedback and impact assessment observation suggests changes in social attitudes towards women and the rights of common citizens.
ASK's programs provide support both financial and technical to community based organizations in its program areas. To ensure that the awareness of Human Rights leads to active engagement, ASK interacts at with at the lowest level of governance. Union based programs are engendered by the Training Unit, the Gender and Social Justice Unit and the Popular Theatre Unit.

Training Unit
The Training Unit (TRN) organizes and conducts courses and workshops to promote ASK strategies. These courses broadly aim to enhance participants' knowledge and skills in subjects such as human rights family law, gender equality, violence against women, collective responsibility and activism, mediation and advocacy techniques.

The Training Unit conducted 234 courses (residential, non-residential and follow-up) this year. These courses were conducted both in Dhaka as well as in the outlying program districts with participants numbering 6,543. In keeping with ASK's programmatic focus on the empowerment of women, a high proportion of the participants of these training courses were women (65.4 percent). The unit also conducted 194 training courses on request in 2005, for 5,550 participants (Female-3711, Male-1839) in Dhaka and outside.

Specific Issues Covered in Training Courses
- legal rights for PNGO staff
- gender relations and legal issues for various professions
- laws relating to VAW and Shalish for women members of the Village Defense Party
- good governance, mediation and advocacy skills
- women in local government
- mediation skills for community leaders
- para-legal training
- labour law

ASK has also responded to requests from different organizations for conducting courses on legal literacy and human rights. These include NGOs, PNGOs, community based organizations, civil society groups. A module on ‘Human Rights, Child Rights and Legal Awareness' was developed for CONCERN- Bangladesh and a module on ‘Child Rights, Violence against Women (VAW) laws relating to Sex Workers was reviewed. Posters (highlighting various aspects of gender violence and inequality, child rights, the judicial system, marriage law inheritance.) were prepared. Two leaflets on Shalish and Muslim Inheritance laws were reviewed and reprinted.

Gender and Social Justice Unit
The Gender and Social Justice Unit (GSJ) evolved with the purpose of ensuring that village shalish (the informal institution for settling family and land related disputes in rural areas) settlements conform with legal rights and making the shalish process more accountable and equitable. To this end, the GSJ unit focuses on mobilizing and developing community activism, raising awareness regarding gender and social justice, encouraging quality shalish or mediation, etc.

Community Activism: The increasing trend

Community activism

2003

2004

2005

Shalish conducted by MSP and MNS

69

92

359

Initiatives taken by MSP & MNS in HRV

74

129

133

GSJ is instrumental in the development and sustainability efforts of various community based organizations to promote and protect Human Rights. Amongst these groups, the Manobadhikar Sangrakkhan Parishad (MSP) and the Manobadhikar Nari Samaj (MNS) are CBOs that are active in protecting human rights through campaigns and collective action. They have formed forums for voicing legitimate Human Rights related concerns of the community. These two groupss operate at the union level with support from GSJ. In addition, GSJ assists in the formation of the upazila level Manobadhikar Ainjibi Parishads (MAP), a network of lawyers, that provide free legal advice and services to the disenfranchised.

The formation of the union level Manabadhikar Nari Samaj (MNS), which aims to ensure women's participation in decision making and to develop women's leadership, has furthered ASK's stated aim of promoting gender justice. In the first half of 2005, 12 MNS were formed through workshops and 5 union-level MSP and MNS were federated at the upazilla level. Around 21 legal camps were held to provide legal advice and support.

The Gender and Social Justice(GSJ) Unit organized a number of training courses and workshops including foundation courses on law, gender relations, advocacy and good governance and communication and facilitation skill, for PNGOs. Courses were also arranged for civil society groups at union and upazila level on governance and gender issues, mediation and facilitation skills, and paralegal training. Follow up training sessions were conducted to examine the impact of the training imparted. Trainings on Baseline Survey and ligical framework analysis were also held. Opinion sharing workshops and advocacy workshops were conducted with Local Elected Body (LEB)s, local government officials, and PNGO staff. These workshops focused on a number of issues including the local Human Rights situation and the reasons for non-functioning of the Village Court process. The workshop held with the district level legal aid committees, MSP and PNGOs examined the causes for non-utilization of the government legal aid fund.

The Gender and Social Justice Unit held a number of operational planning meetings with PNGOs. Bi-monthly meetings were held with MAP to ensure legal support for victims, and to create rapport between the legal community and civil society. Monthly MSP and MNS meetings at union and upazila level were held. The MSP's, Annual General Meeting and Planning Workshop reviewed annual activities and strategy plans for the coming year. Public discussions focusing on the local Human Rights situation were organized in twelve working areas. Also a number of open dialogue sessions with Kazis, religious leaders, and female local government officials were held throughout the year.

Popular Theatre Unit
The Popular Theatre Unit (PTU) employs theatre as a means of mobilizing the youth in the community. It organizes and trains local theatre teams comprising community members in issue-based plays at least twice a month. The goal is to present a case scenario and leave it open-ended for the audience to discuss possible solutions aided by a facilitator. The discussions engendered by these performances often linger in the minds of people: this creates space for long-term impact on issues such as gender equity, violence against women, minority issues and child rights.

A school based Human Rights education program covering eighteen schools has been included under this approach. School Theatre Teams (STT) perform theatre and other cultural activities and attend study circles. The Guide Teachers are trained in theatre production, Human Rights, gender relations and family law while members of STTs are orientated on gender discrimination and theatre production.

In 2005, an ‘action theatre group' was formed with the assistance of a PNGO. This group was trained on action theatre, law, human rights and gender relations and subsequently it encouraged formation of new groups. Union-level theatre groups combined to create the UzMNP (Manobadhikar Nattya Parishad) at Upazilla level to enhance the visibility, influence and network of union-level groups. UzMNP organizes events on a larger scale, supervises MNPs and participates in lobbying for HR cases. MNP is fast gaining ground as a mobilizing force within its communities. Villagers utilize the technical support provided by the Popular Theatre Unit and initiated related activities such as study circles, observance of special days, visiting local health complexes to observe service delivery and participating in local shalishes .

Regular meetings of the union-level MNP were held during the reporting period. Workshops were organized throughout the year on methods and impact of issue-based theatre. Selected activists (numbering up to 25 per year) attended a residential training program to form the panel of Local Facilitators. In addition the UZMNPs published bulletins on their activity.

 

Chapter Two
Access to Justice

Legal Clinics (Outreach) Unit
Rapid Response & Mediation Unit
Litigation Unit
Support Services and Half Way Home
Protection for Working Children Unit
Counseling in Psycho-Social Help

Access to justice through legal support and related extra-legal services has been an overarching goal for ASK. Legal services are provided primarily through legal aid clinics and two other units. The extra-legal services are delivered through three units: the support is as essential for the well-being of the clients as the actual litigation services.

Legal Services are provided through:

Extra-Legal Services are provided through:

Legal Clinics (Outreach) Unit

Support Services and Halfway Home

Rapid Response and Mediation Unit

Protection for Working Children Unit

Litigation Unit

Counseling in Psycho-social Help

Legal Clinics (Outreach) Unit
The Outreach Unit (OUT) functions in collaboration with BRAC. This unit conducts free legal aid clinics in Dhaka as well in the program areas in the rural areas. The beneficiaries are BRAC members, but non-members can access the services of the legal aid clinics as well. This joint program is furthering the policies and principles of ASK legal aid services through replication. One clinic is held at each thana level BRAC area office. ASK primarily provides technical support to the outreach program. Logistic and program management activities are carried out by BRAC personnel. The ASK unit supervises and monitors all program activities of BRAC personnel and panel lawyers and coordinates the legal aid program. OUT trains BRAC personnel as para legals to run the legal aid clinics. Amounts recovered through mediation and/or family court cases for complainants as dower and/or maintenance.

Area (Rajshahi Division)

Amounts Recovered (Tk.)

Rajshahi

4186981

Natore

1833017

Chapai Nawabgonj

2128402

Noagaon

1789847

Joypurhat

1072040

Dinajpur

794300

Nilphamari

1739900

Gaibanda

1083450

Sirajgonj

201900

Kurigram

343000

Rangpur

3033752

Total

1,82,06,589

The Outreach Unit coordinates the Legal Aid program. Coordination meetings attended by ASK staff lawyer's; concerned BRAC personnel and panel lawyers are held to design a collective strategy and assign responsibility to the program personnel. Procedural or substantive legal issues faced by program personnel and appropriate measures needed to resolve such issues are also dealt with. Staff lawyers of the Outreach Unit visit the legal aid clinics on a regular basis to monitor activities; examine mediation files, case files, reports and different registers, and make necessary suggestions. In 2005, Outreach Unit staff lawyers visited 211 Legal Aid Clinics.

Client workshops are held periodically to enable the clients to understand the progress of their cases, the reason for delays due to legal procedures or court requirements. These workshops are especially valuable in that experience and knowledge sharing of the clients increases their confidence and motivates them while decreasing their frustration and sense of vulnerability. The vast majority of the clients – about 90 percent are women.

A legal case may lead to public censure by society. But innocent victims are often threatened by the alleged, and nees multiple forms of support, legal and social, to resist violence and overcome social discrimination.as part of the process of pressing Justice. Case Study: Pursuing a legal case of violence against Shabana
Moniruzzman forcibly tied Shabana's mouth, hands and legs with a gamchha , brought her to a jute field and raped her. A case was filed on 28/06/997 (Case no is 08/97) at Fulbari thana under the the Nari-o-Shishu Nirjatan Daman Ain 1995. When the judgment was to be given on the evidence of the charge sheet, medical certificate and eye witness testimony, influential members of Moniruzaman's family persuaded Shabana's family to withdraw the case. On 15/03/2000 they were married off and their marriage was registered. Tk 30,000/- was set aside. After three years of marriage Shabana was physically assaulted by Moniruzaman who demanded dowry. He drove her away from the house. Shabana sought local mediation and as a result Moniruzaman and his family agreed to that Shabana come back to the house.
On 24/08/2004 at about 8:00 pm Moniruzzaman and his gang threw acid on Shabana's body. Her father informed the police station, who visited the place of occurrence and admitted Shabana to the Thana Health Complex for treatment. The police did not accept an FIR filed by the father as they were influenced by the accused persons. Instead the police fabricated a case under section 5(b) of the Acid 2002. In the meantime Shabana's father sought help from BRAC to bring her to the Acid Survivors Foundation for better treatment. To secure justice the victim's father filed a case in Acid Oporadh Domon Tribunal on 19/10/2003. (Case no. 166/2003), urging re-investigation. The case is continuing and the date is fixed for hearing. The accused party continues to threaten the victim and her family.

Rapid Response & Mediation (RRMU) Unit
The Rapid Response and Mediation Unit (RRMU) was bifurcated from the Legal Aid Unit in 2002. It was established to provide the disenfranchised, particularly poor women, workers, working children and minorities, with speedy and pro active access to justice. The Unit culls the print and electronic media for reported Human Rights violations (RRMU responded to 778 cases of HR violations on the basis of newspaper reports in the reporting period). In addition, concerned individuals or organizations report incidents to which RRMU responds with action at various levels. These include writing/phoning in protests, medical referrals for victims of abuse and violence, litigation, negotiations with the law enforcement agencies, etc.

RRMU addresses emergencies on an urgent basis as well as negotiating settlements through mediation. Mediation is a popular method among female clients in seeking justice, mostly in settling family disputes e.g. concerning desertion, dowry, divorce, maintenance and custody. In Bangladesh, where the formal judicial system is time consuming, expensive, corrupt and biased against women, mediation offers women a familiar and safer space to negotiate a settlement and let their voices be heard. RRMU thus attains its goal through mediation, negotiation, legal advice and rapid response to cases of HRV. Following the successful completion of a case, follow up activities are conducted for up to Six months to ensure compliance with the settlement. RRMU recovered dower and maintenance costs on behalf of the complainants. Akin to the activities of Outreach unit, RRMU prioritizes mediation as a dispute-resolution tool. Of the 1306 new complaints registered during the reporting period, 98 percent were either family disputes (51 percent) or related to violence (47 percent), a scenario not very different from that of previous years (the figure was 93 percent in 2004). As in the past, the violence related complaint category is dominated by cases of violence against women.

Case study

Attention of the RRMU Unit was drawn to a report in the Daily Star on “Three lost kids end up in DMCH” (October 23, 2005), named Sharmeen (13), Titu (10) and Sayeed Roni (7) under treatment in DMCH, who had lost trace of their families.

According to Sharmeen's statement she came to Dhaka from Gajaria village in Lalmohon thana of Bhola District a year ago, because of poverty. She reached Sadarghat by launch but knew no one in Dhaka. While roaming around Sadarghat, she was approached by a middle-aged man who said he would marry her. She went with him, but she was confined in a house for a month and was tortured by him. She managed to escapee and find work in a house. Sharmeen appeared to have lost her emotional balance, and her new employer admitted her to DMCH. In the meantime one Parvez Ahmed from Gulshan learnt about Sharmeen from the newspaper and took her away to work in his house on October 24, 2005. ASK's Investigation and Mediation units worked together to rescue Sharmeen from his house through legal procedures and arranged her shelter in ASK halfway home on October 26. 2005. The Unit's field worker went to Bhola on 1 December, 2005, to trace her guardian. Sharmeen's father came to ASK and she was reunited with her father.

Titu came from Shripur thana in Magura District to Dhaka by train. He was hit by a running train and injured. According to Titu, he used to stay with his maternal grand mother at the village before he came to Dhaka. The Mediation unit communicated with the officer in charge of Shripur thana and OC Bimol Chandro traced his family and informed ASK. His mother and maternal uncle came to Dhaka on October 29, 2005 and took him back.

Sayeed Roni could not tell his address. He had lost both of his legs in a train accident and was under treatment in DMCH under care of the Social Welfare Department which informed ASK that it would arrange vocational training for him at its shelter home after his treatment. The Department was also trying to trace his family. MRRU and Investigation Unit are following the matter.

Litigation Unit
This Unit in contrast with the focus of RRMU and the Outreach Unit in employing mediation primarily uses litigation as a dispute resolution mechanism. The number of new cases filed by staff lawyers of the Litigation Unit during this period was 144 (141 cases filed in Dhaka, 3 filed outside). Staff lawyers have conducted 411 cases pending from previous years. Panel lawyers conducted 118 old pending cases and filed 41 new cases. The staff lawyers have concluded 126 cases, while panel lawyers have completed 27 cases. In addition, this unit has drafted various petitions, taken necessary steps in nine cases in which HR were violated, recovered a total of Taka 855,000 as dower and maintenance on behalf of the clients through court, conducted 48 unit internal meetings during this period.

ASK encourages staff to gain exposure by working with other organisations. In 2005, a staff lawyer visited Sri Lanka for a year-long regional exchange program.

Age

Female

Male

Total

Child (0-12)

3

0

3

Adolescent (13-17)

7

0

7

Adult (18+)

144

57

201

Total

154

57

211

An important aspect of ASK's work in defence of human rights emerges from its Daily Action meetings, at which different units are represented to discuss possible action in incidents of HRV reported in the newspapers, and emergency action is identified and responsibilities shared by different units. The unit has drafted plaints and petitions, lobbied, responded promptly to HRVs, court mediations, recovered dower and maintenance funds.

Case study: Dismissal of Garment Worker

Fact: Khaleque (not real name), 33 years old, was working as a helper with Evins Gaments and on 1 February 2003 was promoted as supervisor. He was dismissed with a notification on 19October, 2003 and he replied in writing against the notice. The management formed an Investigation Cell on 27 October, 2003 to enquire into the complaint and following its report he was finally dismissed on 5 November, 2003 without clearing any dues including compensation, wages etc.

Intervention of ASK: Khaleque sought legal help from ASK. Mediation and Rapid Response Unit tried to solve the problem through negotiation, but when this failed the matter was transferred to the Litigation Unit, which filed a case before the Third Labur Court on behalf asking the reason for his dismissal and demanding compensation and other dues.

Result of the case : After receiving a court notification Evins Garments mangement showed interest in mediation and asked for withdrawal of the case. On 30 June, 2005 Khaleque agreed to withdraw the case after receiving a total sum of 45,000/- taka. The case was withdrawn by the Court and the matter was settled between the two parties.

Comment: A large number of garment workers are harassed by the management but due to their need for paid work, their unawareness of their rights at work, and their powerlessness they are unable to seek judicial remedies. Many of them are now seeking legal aid, but they have to wait for a long time to realize their demand for justice, as the case goes on for long.

Support Services and Half Way Home Unit
The services and facilities provided by the Support Services and Halfway Home (SSHH) Unit complement and complete the extensive legal aid program of ASK by providing medical, economic, psychological and social support to clients. Survivors of domestic violence, rape and trafficking involved in court cases, were provided temporary shelter in the Halfway Home (which has a capacity of 10-15 persons) for a period of six months. They were assisted with training on basic literacy and other skills, healthcare and psycho-social help. In addition, clients were provided with vocational training with the assistance of YWCA and the Directorate of Youth Development. Selected clients were referred to other halfway homes or shelters for rehabilitation, while others returned to their guardians. Television, films, books, newspapers, and indoor games were provided for recreational-therapy.

SSHH Activities in 2005
- 225 survivors of domestic violence, rape and trafficking were provided with temporary shelter
- 16 training courses were organized on family law, VAW and child rights
- 24 client workshops were held
- 1409 clients received follow up care following dispute resolution

The SSHH unit works directly with three organizations (EKOTA, BAWSHE and Karmijibon Samobay Samiti). Training sessions and workshops were held throughout the year. Weekly legal clinics run with the assistance of local organizations and workers provided legal aid and advice; complex cases were referred to the ASK head office. The Unit maintained communication with clients Six months from the date of settlement to ensure compliance, Liaison is also maintained with the party concerned before and after shalish .

Protection for Working Children Unit
ASK recognizes that working children are particularly vulnerable to physical and mental abuse and exploitation and require constant monitoring and safeguarding. Children of poor households are compelled to work, often at hazardous jobs. Even those who work in safer jobs as domestic helps or at shops are denied the basic rights to education, healthcare and last, but not least, the right to play. The Protection for Working Children (PWC) Unit attempts to provide a meeting ground between the harsh reality of demand and supply of these children from poverty stricken households.

Over 1500 children employed in different occupations, benefit from the 9 drop-in centers run by ASK which provide them with HELP (Health Education and Legal Protection). Over 2000 children received medical care from PWC as well as group and individual counseling. The Unit holds monthly legal clinics for working children. Basic and general education services are provided through non-formal methods. In addition 318 working children were enrolled at Govt. primary school, NGO Schools and Vocational Institutes.

Occupation of the DIC children

Occupation

Boys

Girls

Total

Van Driver/Helper

05

-

05

Garbage Collector

110

28

138

Rickshaw Puller

06

-

06

Garage Worker

07

-

07

Brick Chipper

02

04

06

Factory worker

16

06

22

Electric Helper

01

-

01

Garments workers

04

01

05

Tailor

03

-

03

Domestic Helper

09

84

93

Shop Assistant

104

18

122

Vegetable/Fruit/Flower/fish Seller

24

12

36

Hawker

13

-

13

Cleaner

-

03

03

Tiffin Carrier

02

05

07

Sewing

-

18

18

Office Peon

02

-

02

Loader

12

02

14

Art work

06

01

07

Handicraft

-

06

06

Others

30

29

59

Total

356

217

573

ASK has recently initiated a project entitled ‘Protection of full time child domestic workers from abuse and exploitation' as these children are especially vulnerable to abuse. Under this project, 11 drop-in centers are operated across Dhaka for children working as live-in domestic helps. They are provided with education, recreational opportunities, training, healthcare, legal advice and support when necessary.

Modes of education for full-time child domestic workers

The on-going programs have the co-operation of the community of parents and employers who ensure the welfare of the children by ensuring education and medical care. Meetings were held with parents, employers, ward commissioners, and NGO representatives as were staff workshops, study circles and training sessions. Workshops and camps on drug detoxification were organized in collaboration with APON (a rehabilitation program). Participation in socio-cultural events enhanced the self esteem of the children. They attended art and music classes, contests, attended and performed plays, cultural programs and excursions. Four issues of the children's magazine “Srijonshil” were produced. About 800 children visited Six police stations to protest violence against children. ASK operates a sponsorship program whereby patrons can provide children an opportunity for education by sponsoring them. Currently, over 20 sponsored children continue their studies. Among them three children passed the Secondary School Certificate exams in 2005.

Success Stories

Babu and Koli are children of the Mohammadpur DIC. Enrolled by ASK at a special school, Babu is a differently-abled child. He participated in a special sports programme held at Brunei, winning two events. Koli participated in the Social Children's World Congress on Child Labour and Education at New Delhi, India.

Counseling in Psycho-Social Help
The need for psycho-social aid cuts across age, class, gender and profession. Through the activities of this component, ASK has broken new ground in the survivor assistance and rehabilitation scenario of Bangladesh, espousing the view that emotional wellbeing is just as important as physical health.

ASK counselors attend to clients referred by other ASK units. Over a hundred clients (64 percent of whom were children) received counseling for emotional disorders. These cases were referrals from the Legal Aid Unit, DIC and Halfway Home. ASK has developed a code of ethics for counseling. Mainstreaming of counseling as in the curriculum in reputable institutions is an ongoing effort of this component. Training courses, orientation sessions and meetings were held throughout the year; participants consisted of healthcare professionals including psychologists, DIC children's employers and other professionals. In 2005, four trainings were held for 104 participants, while fifteen orientation sessions were organized for 299 participants (male-75, female- 224).

 

Chapter Three
Accountability and Good Governance

Research Unit
Advocacy Unit
Media & Communication Unit

Research and proactive dissemination of the findings is a prime method of monitoring the dynamics of discrimination and identifying sociopolitical and economic concerns from a rights' perspective.

Research Unit
The Research Unit conducts research on various topics in line with ASK's programmatic objectives. As in previous years, the unit has compiled and published the annual Human Rights Report for 2005. The report provides a comprehensive assessment and overview of the human rights scenario in Bangladesh for 2004.

The Research Unit arranged two group discussion meetings on “Human Rights Report in Bangladesh 2004” to identify issues and chapters for the volume. Fifteen chapters (including gender inequality, ethnic and religious minorities, children and the disabled, right to education, information and freedom of expression) were selected. Research reports were written on ‘The State of Dalit Communities in Bangladesh', a study on the lives of the people of alternative sexual identities in Dhaka city', and compiled information for the English edition of Narir 71 . Studies were conducted on consumer protection laws, procedural flaws in the administration of criminal justice system of Bangladesh, rickshaw eviction in Dhaka and domestic violence.

Advocacy Unit
The Advocacy Unit seeks to protect the fundamental rights of citizens through advocacy and public interest litigation. It participates in out-of-court advocacy programs with the government and other like-minded groups at local and national level on various human rights issues. This Unit also works for amendments to repressive and discriminatory laws by formulating drafts and recommendations to the Law Commission and other relevant forums.

In 2005, the Unit filed writ petitions against medical negligence, for release and rehabilitation of the intellectually disabled from detention (without any allegation), and detainees who have served their terms of conviction but have not been produced before the Courts during the last five years.It raised the issue of state and corporate responsibility (of government and Niko Ltd.) for safety from explosions resulting from gas field exploration and in discharging statutory duties on building construction, labour safety and welfare. These petitions sought to protect citizens' right to life, to freedom of movement, to shelter, to a fair trial. A number of these cases are currently pending hearings, while a few have been successfully concluded.

•  In a writ contesting police harassment, arrest and threatened eviction of over 50,000 slum-dwellers in Korail (Writ Petition No 919/2005), the High Court issued orders to stop the eviction and harassment.

•  In Writ no 3566/2005, relating to industrial accidents i.e. Spectrum due to non-compliance with safety regulations, the High Court issued a Rule Nisi on the government to set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry, with expert members and workers' representatives to identify the causes, and to secure adequate compensation to workers, and arrange for rehabilitation of the injured workers. Following the Court's directions to submit a report on the legality of the construction, the BGMEA submitted its report but the Government' regulatory agencies remained in default till date.

•  In Writ no 1987/2005 the Honourable Court issued a Rule Nisi questioning the continued detention of prisoners, who have served their term of conviction. In response to the Court's directions, the Inspector General of Prisons submitted a report on the detainees. The case is pending final hearing.

As a campaign strategy the Unit networked with different human rights organizations, Bar Associations and individuals for implementation of the directions of the High Court relating to amendment to Sections 54 & 167.

Success Story

In Jordan, 115 Bangladeshi workers were detained and their pay was docked . The Advocacy Unit networked on their behalf with both national and international bodies – including the Ministry of Home Affairs, GOB, Migrant Forum Asia and the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture. Following these efforts, the workers were repatriated to Bangladesh with restitution

The Unit, where appropriate, used CEDAW and other international instruments in their case petitions. It completed drafts for Christian Personal Laws, Marriage Act, Amendment of Village Court Ordinance 1976 and submitted these to the Law Commission and Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Prior to finalizing the drafts intensive discussions were held with relevant organizations, professionals and experts.

Media & Communication Unit
The print and electronic media are vital in mobilizing public opinion and awareness. The Media and Communication Unit conducts media campaigns, press briefings, etc to this end. In the past year, the various activities of this unit included verification of information and documents required for legal assistance, for lobbying and campaign or to initiate PIL.

The Media and Communication unit published four issues of the Bulletin in 2005. The cover stories included in-depth articles on Amnesty International, the collapse of the Spectrum garments factory building, UN reforms on its 60 th anniversary and an analytical look at the unfulfilled promise of the Liberation War. In addition, war crimes, worker safety issues and the controversy over violent acts perpetrated by extremist militants were covered in the quarterly.

The second edition of Jonosharthe Mamla (Public Interest Litigation) was published as was a special volume on RAB. The ASK Annual Report 2004 was published copies. In addition, leaflets for different ASK units and a bi-monthly newsletter were printed or reprinted as necessary. Press releases, articles, protest and responses on HR issues were written and published in newspapers and periodicals. A book was brought out compiling the findings of a regional research effort. Launched in 1998 by the International Center for Ethnic Studies, Sri Lanka, ASK acts as the Bangladesh partner on Women and Governance/Democratic Process in South Asia: Re-imagining the State'. This Unit collaborated with the Bangladesh Liberation War Museum and Drishtipat to financially support seven women war survivors. Fund the other partner was in 2005, two survivors located in Rangpur and Dhaka received funds after an assessment study.

 

Chapter Four
Human Rights Situation Monitored

Investigation Unit
Documentation Unit

Constant monitoring of the human rights situation is necessary to formulate a strategy against violations. This monitoring is carried out by direct and indirect methods. The direct initiator is the Investigation Unit which acts as public watchdog, routinely probing into incidents reported at hospitals and police stations. The Documentation Unit conducts indirect monitoring by compiling and archiving all relevant information and documentation.

Investigation Unit
The Investigation Unit plays an important role in providing background support for litigation, advocacy and lobbying/campaigning. The Investigation Unit observed various institutions on a regular basis including two police stations, two hospitals and one court for custody cases in Dhaka. Investigators also interviewed under-trial prisoners when allowed. The staff visited and collected data from the Emergency Ward, the Female and Children Ward and the Burn unit of the Dhaka Medical College Hospital in Dhaka to identify HRV survivors and information on unnatural deaths (suspected) from the hospital morgue. In 2005, investigation reports of 98 cases were forwarded for legal action to the Advocacy and Legal Aid units. The unit sent appeal letters related to 128 incidents to initiate proper action or legal redress. The unit also initiated lobbying and campaign activities (such as press conference, press release, participation in seminar or discussion with journalists, meet police officers, maintain effective network with local and national NGOs working in the field of human rights).
Significant follow-up of extremist militants or JMB activities in the north-eastern parts of Bangladesh, as well as bomb-blasts all over in Bangladesh on August 17 resulted in effective documentation to be used for research, advocacy and litigation purposes.

Documentation Unit
The Documentation Unit maintains a computerized data base on legal and Human Rights literature. The database is catalogued, classified, updated and archived on a regular basis. This Unit scans/compiles/tabulates statistics from daily news papers and weekly magazines. These are used for filing cases, writ petitions, investigation, litigation, research, and publications. Statistical charts computed from news clippings on violence against women are used for research, publication, Human Rights reports, case filing, writ petitions media reporting etc. The charts are used within ASK as well as by other organizations. Chronological charts on incidents of human rights violations are prepared for use in preparing writ cases, media articles, research and report writing. A map was produced in this period on the incidence of fatwa across the Country.
The Unit compiles monthly inventory reports, video index and bibliograph. This Unit is also responsible for dissemination and distribution of ASK Bulletins, reports, and other publications. Recipts include NGOs, educational institutions, teachers, journalists, government officers and PNGOs. The Unit conducts internal evaluations periodically.

 

Case study
The Burning Ground adjacent to the Kali Temple situated near the bazzar and by the side of the district main road at Jhaudanga Union of Satkhira sadar was used for religious and ceremonial (burning dead-bodies) by the Hindu communities living in neighboring villages. As reported by local Hindu community, the land was recorded in favor of the Temple and Burning Ground in 1927 & 1962 Survey. There was no dispute over the land and both Hindus (vast majority of the locality) and Muslims were living in communal harmony. Recently, a claim of having Muslim graveyard at the corner of the burning ground has raised by a certain group of people high tension among both the communities.
During the land survey in 1990, local Muslims demanded 12 decimal land to be recorded for their graveyard. In January 2005, earthwork in filling a small portions low land (in the disputed area) was done by World Vision Bangladesh. Since then, the Muslim people are claiming their ownership on the land and declared the land as Mass-Graveyard. On 29 March (05), they made bamboo-partition around the whole Burning Ground and hanged a sign-board mentioning as Mass-graveyard. The Hindus of the locality submitted a memorandum to local police and administration. Police took away the partition but the sign-board was not removed. The OC and UNO proposed a date (31/3/2005) to visit the area and to sit for mediation the dispute.
A two-member team of ASK Investigation came to know the above fact when the visited and investigated the matter on 7 April, 2005. The findings were communicated to the DC and SP of Satkhira to initiate necessary proper decision /action to solve the problem peacefully. A team was formed and assigned by the administration immediately for that purpose. On 16 April, ASK Investigators met and discussed the issue with the administrative team member. Lastly, on 18 April, the team with both community people decided to allocate some land (10 dcml) for the Muslim graveyard. Thus ASK in association with SODESH (local organization) initiated all necessary steps and action by the local authority immediately to solve the problem permanently.

 

 

Chapter Five
Effective program management ensured

Administration Unit
Finance & Accounts Unit

Efficient and effective management – both financial and operational – is integral to the smooth running of any organization. The day to day functioning of ASK as well as the long-term programmatic overview is taken care of by the Administration Unit and the Finance and Accounts Unit.

Administration Unit
The Administration Unit provides support (such as administration, information technology, human resources development and logistics), for implementation of ASK’s programs. In 2005, personnel of this Unit participated in various training courses to improve their management and program implementation techniques.
Necessary personnel recruitment was completed by the Administration Unit as per project proposal and ASK Organogram. The Unit prepared and submitted Annual Reports for the year 2004 and for the period January-December 2004 to the Consortium Partners, the NGO Affairs Bureau (NGOAB) and concerned persons. Monthly Activity Reports were sent to the NGOAB. In addition four quarterly reports were prepared for ASK’s Executive Committee Meetings.

Finance and Accounts Unit
The Finance and Accounts Unit is responsible for all aspects of organizational and program finance. The Unit monitors program expenditure and provides monthly reports on budget expenditures of Units. In addition, the Unit provides orientation to staff on budgeting and financial management for effective implementation.
The primary work of this Unit is the receiving of all cash/cheque (receiving side) and checking official bills/fund requisitions etc (payments side) preparation of all vouchers, salary preparation, and record keeping. The monthly and annual accounts are prepared. This unit prepared daily financial statements, income tax computations, project and annual budgets. It assisted auditors with their queries and preserve all financial books and records.
Financial reports were prepared and submitted to Donors, the NGO Affairs Bureau, DC office etc as required. This unit responded to queries of other staff/management on the status of funds and other related financial matters. Besides the usual formats of FD-6, FD-2, FC-1, FC-2, MF-1, EF-1 etc. were prepared for project approval, fund release, completion or extension of various projects whenever required and submitted to the NGO Affairs Bureau as per regulation. Preparing budgets and its control collect project wise authentication certificate for DCs and TNOs was also done by this unit.

Overall Outcome
ASK’s concept of legal aid is holistic covering legal and extra-legal services and involves dispute resolution, litigation, monitoring of law enforcement, advocacy and public campaigns and physical and psychological support for victims of violence. The outcome results in helping individual cases and using this experience to develop an over all strategy for class action. This all-encompassing approach has built confidence in the judicial system, increased public participation in preventing Human Rights violations and reduced community tolerance of violence and discrimination.
A significant outcome of ASK’s multifold strategies is to build upon experience of individual cases, documentation of news and investigation reports to raise issues of Human Rights violations in a more public arena through the media, in public campaigns and advocacy for reform. Concern with human rights prevention and protection is now a regular input in the media and ASK has played a strong role in making this possible.
· ASK’s three pronged strategies for awareness, transformation and action results in partnerships with local organizations and interaction with local representatives and officials. This has improved capacity for community activism.
· Monitoring by human rights defender groups or para-legals has created a positive environment for support to survivors of violence, for resolution of disputes and as a deterrent to violations of HR.
· People of the community have become map aware of the issue of working children. A child-friendly environment has been created in our working areas in terms of increased enrollment to school, reduction in number of children employed in hazardous jobs etc.
· The outcome of ASK’s activities is evidenced in the reduction of complaints of violence against women, hilla marriages, under age marriage and an increase in marriage registration. Another outcome is an increased participation of women in shalish.

Lessons Learnt
ASK’s programs enhance the knowledge and experience base of clients in various ways. Yet implementation of activities is a learning process for the organization as well. Consequently certain conclusions can be drawn:
· Community involvement is essential for social change.
· Experience sharing between clients and ASK personnel is essential for a proper understanding of rights and the exercise of these rights.
· There is a need to dialogue with government representatives and officials, panel lawyers and Govt. Legal Aid Committees. Activities to realize this goal are underway at ASK.
· Awareness evolved at the community level should be sustained and reinforced through active campaigning in the national media.
· Advocacy with law-enforcing agencies is important for implementation of legal procedures.
· Public awareness of laws and rights is necessary for better implementation of rule of law.
· Training and education is required for local government officials, locally elected personnel, NGO personnel, civil society groups and activists. Providing orientation and then reinforcing that knowledge through follow up activities is essential for sustainability.

ASK Members

Founder Members
Abdul Khaleque
Aminul Haq (Late)
Amirul Islam
Fazle Hasan Abed
Hameeda Hossain
Khursheed Erfan Ahmed
K.M. Subhan
Salma Sobhan (Late)
Taherunnessa Abdullah

Executive Committee Members
Md. Asaduzzaman (Secretary General)
Fazle Hasan Abed (Chairperson)
Faustina Pereira Member
Nizamul Hoq Nasim Member
Md. Nur Khan, Member
Roushan Jahan (Treasurer)
Shamim Akhter Member
Sultana Kamal ( Ex-Officio ) Member
Sara Hossain Member

General Members
Adilur Rahman Khan
Afsana Wahab
Dilruba Shahana
Faustina Pereira
Fatema Rashid Hasan
Isaac Robinson
Khurshid Alam
Karunamoy Chakma
Meghna Guha Thakurta
Md. Asaduzzaman
Md. Nur Khan
Nizamul Huq Nasim
Nihad Kabir
Neela Matin
Roushan Jahan Parvin
Roxana Khondokar
Roushan Jahan
Sultana Kamal
Sara Hossain
Saira Rahman Khan
Syed Refaat Ahmed
Shameem Akhter
Syed Mahbubar Rahman
Tahmina Rahman
Tanzina Huq Tiru
Umme Habiba Sumi
Z.I. Khan Panna
Zaved Hasan Mahmood

Sponsors of Working Children 2005

Khursheed Erfan Ahmed
Wahidur Rahman Azad
Parul Bavishi
Lucio Baccoaro
Ruby Ghuznavi
Waltraud Haase
Peter Haase
Mustak Hossain
Dr. Faustina Pereira
Sarah Leigh
Dr. Markuz Litz
Sorwar Morshed
Tulu Motin
Abu Sayeed
Zafrin Sattar
Salma Chowdhury Shilpi

Mahboob Alom, Abu Taher
Ismail
Nazrul Islam, Nasima
Salma
Rasel
Hosne Ara, Shameem Hossain
Sayeda Akhter, Ashraf Hossain
*Rahmatullah
*Rahmatullah
Hasina Akter, Faria Nasrin
Monir Hossain, Apu
Swapon, Dipa, Saiful Rasel
Monir Hossain
Swopna Akter, Rashedul Islam Joy
Asma
Sajeda

* Mustak Hossain Provided support upto March 2005 & Dr. Faustina Pereira is providing support from April 2005 for Rahmatullah.

 

ASK Personnel

Executive Director
Sultana Kamal

Khursheed Erfan Ahmed- Advisor (PWCU, PSH, TRU, GSJU and PTU)

Directors
Md. Nur Khan, Investigation And Documentation & Dissemination
Suraiya Hanam, Finance (Part time) Faustina Pereira, Advocacy & Research

Training Unit: Shaheen Akhter (Coordinator), Tanvia Roseleen Sultana, Momy Monjury Chowdhury, Rafiq Ahmed Shirajee, Sadia Tasneem, Asma Khanom Ruba, Jahera Begum, Md. Moshin Ali, Setara Yeasmin Setu, Arifur Rahman, Shaila Parvin, Mamunur Rashid, Shamim Hossain.

Gender and Social Justice Unit: Sanaiya Faheem Ansari (Coordinator), Taufiq al Mannan, Gulsan Ara Parvin, Md. Arefuzzaman, Shetara Shamim, Hasina Momtuz Luna, Molla Md. Khalekuzzaman.

Popular Theatre Unit: Afsana Chowdhury, Md. Jahedul Alam, Md. Jahangir Alam, Lucy Tripti Gomez, Mothar Uddin Akand (Coordinator), Sabina Yasmin Saba, Zahirul Islam, Shahnaz Rahman (Sonia).

Mediation Unit: Abedul Moula, Ila Chanda (Deputy Director, Mediation), Mahjabin Robbani, Nina Goswami, Nahid Shams, Shamsun Nahar, Shithi Rani Das, Selina Akhter, Shanina Ferdousi, Mosammat Monira Sultana, Nori Khisa, Farhana Afroz, Umme Kulsum Parvin.

Litigation Unit: Abdur Rashid, Ahsan Habib, Momtaj Begum, Nilufar Akhter, Monira Akhter Ratna, Nasreen Akhter, Salma Jabin (Coordinator), Konika Biswas, Topan Kumar Sarker.

Outreach Unit: Dilip Kumar Paul (Coordinator), Khokon Gomez, Mirza Shammi Akter, Roushan Jahan Parvin (Deputy Director), Rehana Sultana, Md. Monwar Hossain, Sheikh Shariful Islam, Khandaker Forhad Abedin, Mahbuba Jahan, Shahwati.

Support Service and Half Way Home Unit: Anwara Begum, Ayesha Begum, Ayesha Islam, Arpita Das (Coordinator), Rajia Begum. Israt Jahan Mithila , Maleka Begum, Rokeya Begum, Syeda Parvez Khanam.

Protection for Working Children (Consortium): Ali Akram Tarafdar, Geeta Chakrabarty (Deputy Director), Jahanara Parvin, Kamrunnessa, Mehraj Jahan, Moqsud Maleque (Coordinator), Mina Sanyal, Md.Assadujjaman, Nargis Akter, Rashida Khanam, Rasheda Akhter, Runa Khandakar, Shamsunnaher, Ferdousi, Nazma Akter, Nargis Aktar Mafia, Rehana Parvin, Shammi Akter Ruma, Shahana Sultana, Atia Afrin.

Protection for full-time Child Domestic Workers from Abuse and Exploitation (SC-Sweden project): Ambika Roy, Anwara Begum, Jesmin Ratna, Luna Sarker, Mizanur Rahman, Monika Rani Dey, Mabia Akter, Parvin Akter Baby, Rita Parvin, Sabila Moktader, Shaheen Mahbub, Shilpi Shaha, Shahnaz Begum, Farzana Khanam, Amena Khanam, Rokeya Begum, Lutfun Nessa, Selina Akhter Seli, Reshma Akhter, Mohsina Begum, Supria Bar, Ishrat Jahan.

Psycho-Social Help: Nasima Akter (Helper in Counselling), Abeda Sultana (Counselor).

Investigation Unit: John Asit Das, Md. Nur Khan (Director), Mohammed Tipu Sultan (Coordinator), Rahima Akhter, Sheikh Nasir Ahmed, Shah Alam Faruk, Abu Ahmed Faijul Kabir, Sanjay Krishana Biswas, Tapati Bhattacharjee.

Documentation Unit: Fahmida Zaman, Fatema Zannati, Khorshed Alam, Md. Sekandar Ali, Nargis Akhter, Zafreen Sattar (Coordinator), Jharna Khanam.

Communication Unit: Mosharaf Hossain, Mariam Begum, Shaheen Akhter (Editor), Syeed Ahmed (Coordinator), Kaniz Khadija Surovy, Syful Akbar Khan, Sultan Mahmud Ripon.

Research Unit: Salma Chaudhury, Lovely Rani Talukder, Anil Chandra Mandal, Muhammad Amirul Huq Tuhin, Mahfuza Leeza, Bashobi Barua.

Advocacy Unit: Abu Obaidur Rahman (Coordinator), Kowsar Ahmed, Leena Chakma, Fazlul Bari, Kaiyum Hossen Howlader, Nazmun Nahar Sumi, Tapas Bandhu Das.

Administration Unit: Fazila Begum, Fatema Begum, Laila Begum, Md. Haider Ali, Mintu Barua, Majeda Begum, Mahmuda Sultana, Naseema Akhter Banu (Asstt. Director, Incharge), Nurun Nahar Rekha, Shirin Aktar, Sabina Yeasmin, Tahsina Ahmed, Salma Begum, Mahbub Alam.

Finance Unit: Hosneara Begum, Md. Shahidullah (Deputy Director, Accounts), Nur E. Alam, Philip Arnold, Suraiya Hanam (Director Finance), Tahera Begum.