New UN report shows poor people in Bangladesh face legal disadvantages

16 September 2002

Poor people in Bangladesh face a number of legal and law enforcement disadvantages, according to a new report by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Human Security in Bangladesh: In Search of Justice and Dignity shows that in a country where more than 70 per cent of the population earns less than $2 a day, impoverished people face frequent court delays and lack access to legal aid. As such, many Bangladeshis are "priced out of the legal system."

The poor are also at a disadvantage when dealing with the police, who, according to the report, are most responsive to influential members of the community. To address the problem, the report recommends improved police monitoring and training.

Another key finding reveals that despite constitutional and legislative guarantees, women in Bangladesh continue to be subject to violence, acid throwing, murder, rape and trafficking. UNDP suggests that the country tackle this problem through setting up a help line, increasing the number of women officials, and launching a systematic awareness raising campaign about gender-based violence.

"Human insecurity is like a cancer," said UNDP Representative Jorgan Lissner in Dhaka, "No single group of people or causes can be blamed for it, and it can only be tackled by all segments of society working closely together - the Government, academia, political parties, civil society, local communities and the private sector."

 

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