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Nearly 900,000 people receive govt legal aid in 14 years

A Correspondent:

As part of the government’s commitment to providing justice for all, it has been giving free legal aid since 2009 through the National Legal Aid Services Organization (NLASO), and so far 879,929 people have received its services.

“Apart from these, NLASO provided free legal advice to 353,656 people in this period,” Law Minister Anisul Huq said on the eve of National Legal Aid Services Day, to be observed Friday.

The law minister said the then-Awami League government, led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, formulated the Legal Aid Services Act, 2000 and formed NLASO to provide legal assistance to people who are financially insolvent, penniless or unable to get justice because of various socio-economic reasons.

“But the issue of providing legal aid remained neglected from 2001 to 2008. After Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formed a government for the second time in 2009, the implementation of the act gained momentum,” he added.

Highlighting the achievements of NLASO to BSS, Law Ministry spokesperson Dr Md Rezaul Karim said the organization managed to realize Tk134.90 crore in compensation for victim parties and resolved 82,588 cases or disputes through alternative dispute resolution from 2009 to March 2023.

“NLASO, through its 64 district legal aid offices, provided legal services to 450,067 people, of which 105,650 received the services in prisons. A total of 153,413 people were given free legal aid through the toll-free national helpline 16430 since its launch in 2016,” the law ministry official added.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on National Legal Aid Day on April 28, 2016, launched the service and it became more and more popular with the passing of time.

Following the directives of the law minister, NLASO kept its toll-free helpline running for 24 hours to provide any kind of free legal advice and information to people sitting in their homes amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Legal aid activities have been going on in the country’s Supreme Court since 2015 through the Supreme Court Legal Aid Office (SCLAO). It is also providing the following services: legal advice, filing and dealing cases, expert opinion on the merit of the cases and bearing the actual cost of cases. A total of 25,977 beneficiaries have received its services in one way or another till now.

Dr Md Rezaul Karim also said legal aid services have been given to 20,155 labourers from 2013 till now through the labourer legal assistant cells situated in Dhaka and Chittagong. Of the total number of beneficiaries, 4,193 were women and 15,962 were men, he added.

NLASO is a statutory body working under the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs to adopt policies and principles for making legal services available under the Legal Aid Services Act, 2000.

Any poor person is entitled to get free legal aid services. Besides, any individual receiving the old-age allowance, distressed mother holding a VGD card, women and children victims of trafficking and acid throwing, insolvent widows, abandoned or distressed women, disabled persons, and poor detainees can avail of the free legal services.

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