SLAF Organized Learning Session on Government Legal Aid Services: A Tool for Ensuring Access to Justice

Student Legal Aid Forum, Dhaka University Chapter organized a learning session on 19 September 2017 under the title, ‘Government Legal Aid Services: A Tool for Ensuring Access to Justice’. Supported by USAID’s Justice for All Program (JFA), the session was held at the Department of Law, University of Dhaka in attendance of more than 150 law students, distinguished guests, judges, academicians and chapter representatives of SLAF from different universities. The learning session focused on legal aid services in Bangladesh and Student Legal Aid Forum’s role in easing the way to Government Legal Aid Service.

All the guests were welcomed by the organizers as the session started on due time and the Special Guest of Honor, Professor Dr. Borhan Uddin Khan, Honorable Chairman, Department of Law, University of Dhaka was invited to deliver his welcome speech. Prof. Dr. Borhan said that, he was really glad to attend the program. He appreciated the Forum’s endeavor since it’s’ inception.

Followed by the speech of Professor Dr. Borhan Uddin Khan, Mr. Mohammad Golam Sarwar, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Dhaka & Adviser, Student Legal Aid Forum, Dhaka University Chapter, briefly discussed on the prospects and benefits of involvement of youth in easing the way to foster government legal aid service in Bangladesh.

Mohammad Golam Sarwar emphasized that, law students should nurture leadership and be able to lead for the betterment, carrying an obligation being the social engineers. SLAF is doing the same thing, he explained, by disseminating legal aid to underprivileged community, by creating a network amongst law students to stimulate young minds in the government legal aid service. Becoming a socio-legal entrepreneur without doing anything detrimental to the community is what the youth should involve themselves in. He showed how Bangladesh fails in establishing equal economic society and thus, he established the importance of an alternative device like ‘Legal Aid’ to foster the backward people.

Special Guest of Honour of the learning session, Professor Dr. Md. Rahmat Ullah, Honorable Dean of the Faculty of Law and General Secretary of the Dhaka University Teachers Association, then urged the law students not to confine their learning into books only but also to apply the knowledge practically to work for the betterment and ensure justice in the society. Honorable Dean then disclosed the future plan of the law faculty to work more in engaging students in numerous social initiatives.

Dr. Farzana Akter, Associate Professor, Department of Law, University of Dhaka, was invited to share her findings and research on legal aid. She presented an overview of the Legal Aid scenario in Bangladesh.

Legal aid is considered a ‘classic corrective’ to the fundamental contradictions she said in explaining why the country needs the mechanism. She explained right-based approach and welfare approach showing how the state is obliged to render legal aid as per the Preamble of the Constitution, Article 27 and Article 33, and also how the aid is a right of the citizens as well.

 In her talk, she presented the extraordinary aspects of Legal Aid in our country and also she pointed out the glaring inadequacies. “The Service is in initial stage but in the long run, we believe that it will be a successful tool”, she said.

Afterwards Ms. Abeda Sultana, Deputy Director, National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) talked on the Role of NLASO in Govt. Legal Aid Service. She discussed on the efforts and activities of the government to ensure the aid. With the recent statistics she demonstrated the development in legal aid activities with the passage of time.

She stated her eagerness to work in collaboration with the enlightened minds attending the event, who she believes will contribute to the service in near future and thanked SLAF for helping the government by promoting legal aid and organizing such sessions.

Mr. Kazi Yasin Habib, Assistant Director, NLASO conducted a Q&A session soon after a vibrant presentation and made the session interactive. He showed the activities and process of legal aid works of the National and District Level legal aid forums.

Honorable Director of National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO) and Senior District Judge, Mr. MD. Zafrul Hasan chaired the session as Chief Guest. Sharing his interesting experiences of a long career, he reminisced his days as a student when the notion of legal aid was not clear to the students. He shared different stories and tried to inspire the attended students to get involved in legal aid activities. Acknowledging graciously the efforts of the organizers he concluded his speech.

Mr. Md. Zahirul Islam, Senior Legal Associate, USAID’s Justice for All Program shared the experiences of LAC’s and in detail he discussed the program and its objectives. The president of SLAF, Mr. Atikul Haque briefly reflected upon the activities, beginning and future plans of the organization and the Co-coordinator of the Dhaka University Chapter, SLAF, Mr. Al Farhad Bin Kashem conveyed his Vote of Thanks.  The session ended with a photo session with the guests.

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Raihan Rahman Rafid

First year law student at University of Dhaka, Debater, Blogger, Public Speaker

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