Support from the International Bar Association for legal aid workers

Friendship receives support from the International Bar Association (IBA) in the context of a program helping frontline legal aid workers who face additional challenges arising from the Covid-19 crisis.

Nominated by IBA’s member firm, Elvinger Hoss Prussen, the support in an amount of GBP 10,000 helps to reduce Gender Based Violence (GBV) and child’s right abuse cases in the remote northern river islands of Bangladesh. The number of GBV (including but not limited to sexual abuse, domestic violence, etc.) and child’s right abuse cases in the household level had increased substantially following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Bangladesh, more so in these poverty-stricken, remote and climate vulnerable areas. Executed by the frontline legal workers of Friendship, otherwise known as Friendship Paralegals, the project creates awareness regarding the penalties for violation of rights among the beneficiaries and establishes a safe outlet for reporting such incidents. A hotline number has been also created and disseminated among the island community to maintain anonymity of the victims and avoid negative consequences from their family or community members.

The IBA supported activities capitalize on the existing governance program of Friendship, known as ‘Inclusive Citizenship’, operating in 75 riverine islands in the north of Bangladesh. Launched in 2012, this program works to sensitize community members on basic citizen and legal rights, create access to government legal aid services as well as informal justice system and sensitize government institutions to ensure accountability, transparency and efficiency in delivery of the duty bearers’ service. This program and its delivery personnel are deeply rooted in the community with strong cooperation with the local governance offices.

Reaching more than 220,000 people annually, Friendship Paralegals were recently recognized by the City of Luxembourg as “Human Rights Defenders”. This additional recognition from the International Bar Association comes as a great encouragement to their daily commitment for the rule of law and access to justice for everyone.

A woman has come to the legal booth to learn from the Friendship Paralegal at Boilmondiar Khata, Chilmari
Awareness session in times of COVID-19 by a Friendship Paralegal at Bromottor Char.
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