To ensure better services for  the MSM and transgender community and also discuss on the protection of local rights defenders, Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Bandhu) organized Consultation meeting with legal aid service provider/organization and National Human Rights Commission to ensure better services to the community at Conference Room, MSA Project Office, 62/A, Siddeswari Road, Dhaka-1217.

On 21 June 2017 20 participants from different reputed legal aid service providing organizations including National Legal Aid Services Organizations, National Human Rights Commission, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, Bangladesh Center for Human Rights and Development, advocates, took part in the consultation meeting.

Umme Farhana Zarif, program manager shared the objectives of the meeting and emphasized on the importance collaborative approach to make social change. In her remarks she requested everyone to take part in the discussion actively so that future program can be designed based on the needs and concern.

This introduction session was followed by a power point presentation demonstrating the statistics of recording ‘Ain-Alap’ phone calls and complaints as the nature of complaints and geographical coverage. This presentation included the specific and immediately required focused area to ensure better protection of the right defenders and shared some best practice of effective collaboration and some challenges as well which open ups the mind of the participants for their specific suggestions and opinions based on their experiences.

Bandhu Panel lawyers, Mr. Shah Alam and Ashikur Rahman shared their recent experiences in dealing cases of third gender that the response of court regarding this community is changing. People were not willing to discuss about this before but now space has been created due to the government recognition of third gender and advocacy works of development agencies like Bandhu. Advocate Shihab shirajee, Bangladesh Supreme Court discussed on the issue around protection of rights defenders. He mentioned that it is the responsibility of the state and the different wings of the state are not functional enough to address the issue which leads the specific community even more dangerous situation. He recommend for a  representative platform involving the relevant government officials and non government officials. He suggested initiating an active communication channels among the rights defenders for immediate respond if anyone is under threat or in danger. UN declaration of 1998 regarding local rights defenders can be a vital tool for the activist as a first hand protection.

Agreed action items of the consultation for follow up:

  • Refer  cases of third gender to the government legal aid offices at district level
  • Communication and collaboration with human rights based organization in any social movement and express solidarity by coming out from comfort zone or specific project based responsibilities

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