Programs or Activities of NGOs in Promoting Human Rights in Bangladeesh

Programs or Activities of NGOs in Promoting Human Rights in Bangladeesh

Many NGOs in Bangladesh have been actively working to protect and uphold human rights, particularly the rights of women and children for several years. They are very active in creating awareness among the policy-makers and actors working among the general masses. They are trying to reform laws to eliminate social, legal and political discrimination on the basis of gender, class, ethnicity, race and religion. They carry out advocacy at different levels i.e., local, national and international through awareness building, lobbying and mass communication. Few NGOs also provide legal aids to the poor and victims, particularly to women, workers and children in the forms of counselling, mediation and litigation. Since awareness about rights and responsibility is the key means to protect rights and establish justice, many NGOs have awareness campaign on issues like human rights and constitutional laws, family laws, women rights and violence against women and children. As the protection of human rights is an integral part of democracy, human rights defenders play an important role in promoting the rule of law through defending people’s rights and by continuing their efforts to set standards to ensure that no rights are violated by either state or non-state actors. Until the early 1990s, however, human rights activism in Bangladesh was confined, practically speaking, to only a number of legal professionals. Their human rights non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were operated with an elitist and legalist outlook rather than a service-based approach. As a result, there was a type of client-patron relationship between victims of human rights violations and these organizations, which became active only when there were political or vested interests for the benefit of certain elites,

HRNGOs in Bangladesh works to promote awareness of human rights, identify the problem in the protection and enjoyment of human rights. HRNGOs, Govt. and international institutions are working together to establish the human rights-based consensus to redefining human rights related policy. Regularly engage in civil society debates in the media, their public campaigns and advocacy work for legal reform,

1.      Documentation and Networking: All NGO has a documentation team that keeps the organization updated with human rights abuses published in the major national dailies. The work of the documentation unit is to gather and document relevant information for investigation purposes from both the daily papers and personal and organizational sources/contacts, including human rights defenders. These are included in annual human rights reports and monthly reports of human rights violations, which are distributed to the media for publication and to other NGOs.
2.      Fact-Finding: NGOs fact-finding activities cover instances of torture, cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment and abuse of some specific laws leading to human rights violations, repression against innocent people and application of unnecessary force by law enforcement agencies. They identify incidents of human rights violations, which are reported in the newspapers but need further enquiry and information to clearly establish the actual abuse faced by the victims, causes behind the abuse and the persons responsible. While the media focuses on human rights violations more from a journalistic perspective confined within reporting the incident only, the fact-finding goes deep into the incidents from socio-legal perspective.
3.      Research: The Research Unit at NGO is responsible for the archival preservation and enhancement of the fact-finding reports. This involves the inclusion of legal rights, available data and statistics from previous years and recommendations into the main text of the fact-finding reports as well as translation and editing work. The work also involves the preparation of human rights reports, collection of data regarding various human rights abuses throughout the year and writing and publication of various articles on human rights abuses for public knowledge. Another activity of the Research Unit is to keep international and regional human rights organizations.

4.      Election Monitoring and Observation: Encourage the electorate to vote freely and without fear to popularize the concept that the country needs the vote of every citizen. It also aims at campaigning and monitoring for free and fair conduct of the electoral process to ensure voters' rights. NGOs maintain a close liaison with the Bangladesh Election Commission. Many NGO has been monitoring national and local government elections in Bangladesh since 1996. The monitoring work is not only limited to Election Day but also covers pre and post-election periods.

5.      Media Campaign: All NGO regularly conducts media campaigns for the protection and promotion of human rights. The data collected by the organization are published is both Bangla and English language dailies on a monthly, quarterly and annual basis. Articles written by both staff and members of the organization are published in special edition pages and legal rights supplements of national dailies as well.

6.      Human Rights Defenders Training: The aim of the training programme was to create a grass-roots and local human rights network. Apart from training on human rights issues, fact-finding and report-writing, Human rights defenders are also given training on election monitoring prior to every national election.

7.      Advocacy: Through regular discussion meetings on various issues of human rights and their abuse, NGO brings together various groups of people, including policymakers, politicians, lawyers, human rights activists and NGO activists, journalists from popular daily newspapers and victims of human rights abuse. The findings and recommendations are discussed and the policy-makers are asked for comments and suggestions.

8.      Urgent Appeals: To campaign against major violations of human rights and also to put pressure on state actors for a swift remedy for victims NGOs send urgent appeals across the globe through its network and website. NGOs also respond to urgent appeals sent by other organizations.

9.      Internships / Volunteers: NGOs provide an internship/volunteer programme for local and international students, researchers and activists who are interested in doing filed and desk research work as human rights defenders in Bangladesh. NGOs provide a safe working environment for interns/volunteers.

10.  Good Governance: One of the main focuses of NGOs is the promotion of good governance. Without protecting human rights, ensuring good governance is impossible and vice versa seminars, workshops and discussion meetings, including round table meetings with dailies, to promote the issue of good governance.

11.  Publications: NGOs publishes its research, investigation findings and monthly and annual reports on the state of human rights in Bangladesh in the form of bulletins books and reports.

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