Mid-term Evaluation of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project - Phase II

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Evaluation Plan:
2017-2020, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type:
Mid Term Project
Planned End Date:
11/2018
Completion Date:
11/2018
Status:
Completed
Management Response:
Yes
Evaluation Budget(US $):
45,000

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Title Mid-term Evaluation of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Project - Phase II
Atlas Project Number: 82279
Evaluation Plan: 2017-2020, Bangladesh
Evaluation Type: Mid Term Project
Status: Completed
Completion Date: 11/2018
Planned End Date: 11/2018
Management Response: Yes
Corporate Outcome and Output (UNDP Strategic Plan 2018-2021)
  • 1. Output 2.2.3 Capacities, functions and financing of rule of law and national human rights institutions and systems strengthened to expand access to justice and combat discrimination, with a focus on women and other marginalised groups
Evaluation Budget(US $): 45,000
Source of Funding:
Evaluation Expenditure(US $): 34,875
Joint Programme: No
Mandatory Evaluation: No
Joint Evaluation: No
Evaluation Team members:
Name Title Email Nationality
GEF Evaluation: No
Key Stakeholders:
Countries: BANGLADESH
Lessons
Findings
Recommendations
1

There are two recommended options for the project period:

1.  Start the project's draw down in September 2019 and end the project by December 2019; or

2.  Request the EUD for extension of 18 months to 2 years to allow time for the TPP to be signed for CHT where work can start as well as for government to recruit AACOs to enable the VCs to be self-sustaining.

2

In 2005, the VCs supported by MLAA discussed their findings in open courts and negotiated the compensation with the parties openly. Any ‘backroom’ discussions were discouraged, and all proceedings took place in open courts. We noted during the four trial observations that in each the panel adjourned to deliberate on their decision. The chairman then delivered the ruling (each of the four hearings was an arbitration not mediation) and compensation to be awarded. This goes against the spirit of restorative justice and open dealings which ought to characterise the VCs. To address this, the AVCB team develop a quick strategy for addressing this both through formal letters from the relevant authorities, as well as project notes to VCAs and follow up on the ground and in refresher training courses.

3

Eligibility for chairing the VC panel should be expanded to cover a cadre of respected members of the local community regardless of political affiliation.

4

VC forms and formats should be reviewed and revisited to see how many of them are actually needed. A new form should be created to report back the court- a) receipt of the case; and b) the result / outcome of the case.

5

If District and Upazila Village Courts Management Committee (VCMC) is activated properly, these committees will be able to play a significant role in monitoring the performance of the village courts. The government should send required circulars to the DCs and UNOs to make sure District and Upazila Village Courts Management committees sit separately to discuss the VC performance under their respective jurisdictions.

6

Activation of the DMIE (Decentralized Monitoring, Inspection and Evaluation) framework, which the AVCB aimed to support through LGD involving the DCs and UNOs to oversee the VC affairs, ensures its quality and accountability; and in the alternative, UNDP lends their technical expertise and comparative experience to LGD in drafting a Village Court Roadmap with agreed targets, time-bound and performance framework that is realistic and accountable.

7

The duty to convene a VC should be added to a list of the 39 duties currently set down in the UP Act 2009.

8

The VC Act needs to be amended on following areas.

1.  Section 5 (5) should be deleted;

2.  Schedule of offences should be revised to include the type and nature of the offence (with examples in support) so as to emphasise the minor and petty nature of the dispute. Land disputes, for instance, should only be those that are simple to resolve and the value should attach to the area of land in dispute.

3. Emphasis should be placed in the VC Act on transparency of the process at all stages.

9

Stories from the VCs should be developed and put on the air in the four most popular TV channels.

10

The Ward Shavas, Open budget meetings, Public hearings and Upazila level Women Development Forums should be approached to communicate the VC message (especially to women).

11

District Information Offices are mandated to increase public awareness about government projects, programs and policies. This office can be used to help raising the awareness of the local people about the village courts. A directive sent by the Ministry of Information would be needed to activate the District Information Office to this end. Alternatively, an instruction from the DC office should be sent to the District Information Office, requesting the office to popularize the concept of VCs covering different UPs and Upazilas under the district. A joint meeting should be also organized involving the District Administration, UNDP and the District Information Office to reach consensus and discuss the modalities of future cooperation on the front of awareness raising about the village court.

12

Using the Government media, such as BTV and Bangladesh Betar, would help raise awareness of the VCs. This modality would also be cost-effective.

13

A directive from Cabinet Division/LGD should be sent to the DCs and UNOs to organize the NGO coordination meetings. NGOs will be persuaded to take part in the awareness raising campaign along with their regular activities in the rural areas.

14

In consultation with BLAST and MLAA, a strategy is developed for engaging with the Bar.

1. Recommendation:

There are two recommended options for the project period:

1.  Start the project's draw down in September 2019 and end the project by December 2019; or

2.  Request the EUD for extension of 18 months to 2 years to allow time for the TPP to be signed for CHT where work can start as well as for government to recruit AACOs to enable the VCs to be self-sustaining.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

The project has agreed to request the EUD for extension of the contract for 18 months to 2 years.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop delay recovery plan and share with EU for their approval
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2018/10 Completed EU agreed to extend the project for one year.
Review budget and multi-year plan. Prepare revised budget and plan for the period 2016-20120
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2018/11 Completed
Revise the PAGODA for extension
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and EU 2019/02 Not Initiated
Revise ProDoc and TPP and place for GOB approval
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
Get approval of both ProDoc and TPP
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/06 Not Initiated
2. Recommendation:

In 2005, the VCs supported by MLAA discussed their findings in open courts and negotiated the compensation with the parties openly. Any ‘backroom’ discussions were discouraged, and all proceedings took place in open courts. We noted during the four trial observations that in each the panel adjourned to deliberate on their decision. The chairman then delivered the ruling (each of the four hearings was an arbitration not mediation) and compensation to be awarded. This goes against the spirit of restorative justice and open dealings which ought to characterise the VCs. To address this, the AVCB team develop a quick strategy for addressing this both through formal letters from the relevant authorities, as well as project notes to VCAs and follow up on the ground and in refresher training courses.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

Adjourned the village courts session before deliberating the village court’s decision is not common across all hearing sessions. It depends on the situation, and if required, it may happen. However, the project will review the issues and deliver the message to the field accordingly.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Review issues and provide instruction to the field through meetings, refresher training and follow-up visits
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
3. Recommendation:

Eligibility for chairing the VC panel should be expanded to cover a cadre of respected members of the local community regardless of political affiliation.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

VC Act does not have such provision.

Key Actions:

4. Recommendation:

VC forms and formats should be reviewed and revisited to see how many of them are actually needed. A new form should be created to report back the court- a) receipt of the case; and b) the result / outcome of the case.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

The project will review the existing VC forms and formats to see how many of them are needed and will also explore the idea on the new format.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Assess and review existing forms/formats to know the requirements. Add new formats on to report back the district court on- a) receipt of the case and b) the result/outcome of the case
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/09 Not Initiated
Develop and place proposal to the ministry for amending the VC rules based on the assessment findings
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/11 Not Initiated
5. Recommendation:

If District and Upazila Village Courts Management Committee (VCMC) is activated properly, these committees will be able to play a significant role in monitoring the performance of the village courts. The government should send required circulars to the DCs and UNOs to make sure District and Upazila Village Courts Management committees sit separately to discuss the VC performance under their respective jurisdictions.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

At present, the VCMC meeting is taking place at district and upazila level along with others committee meetings as members of most of the committees are same.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
LGD will issue a directive instructing the local administration for conducting VCMC meeting separately
[Added: 2018/12/24]
LGD and UNDP 2019/05 Not Initiated
Provide orientation to DCs and UNOs on roles and responsibilities of VCMC
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/06 Not Initiated
6. Recommendation:

Activation of the DMIE (Decentralized Monitoring, Inspection and Evaluation) framework, which the AVCB aimed to support through LGD involving the DCs and UNOs to oversee the VC affairs, ensures its quality and accountability; and in the alternative, UNDP lends their technical expertise and comparative experience to LGD in drafting a Village Court Roadmap with agreed targets, time-bound and performance framework that is realistic and accountable.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

Agreed.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Finalize the guideline of DMIE system in consultation with Cabinet division, MIE Wing, and UP section. Issue GO instructing DDLGs, UNOs and UP Chairmen to implement DMIE system.
[Added: 2018/12/24]
LGD and UNDP 2019/05 Initiated
Provide training to UP chairmen, UP Secretaries, and VCAs on DMIE system
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/06 Not Initiated
Provide staff (National Consultant-Monitoring Associate) to support MIE Wing, LGD to implement the DMIE system
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2018/10 Completed
7. Recommendation:

The duty to convene a VC should be added to a list of the 39 duties currently set down in the UP Act 2009.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

This inclusion will require amendment of LG (UP) Act 2009, which may not be possible during the project period. During the debriefing session of the MTR mission, the LGD mentioned that they would consider this inclusion during revision of LG (UP) Act 2009. However, given the due importance of this recommendation, the LGD agreed to issue a directive instructing all UPs to run village courts regularly.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Issue a directive instructing all UPs to run village courts regularly
[Added: 2018/12/24]
LGD and UNDP 2018/11 Completed
The duty to convene a VC should be added to a list of 39 duties currently set down in the UP Act 2009
[Added: 2018/12/24]
LGD 2019/12 Not Initiated
8. Recommendation:

The VC Act needs to be amended on following areas.

1.  Section 5 (5) should be deleted;

2.  Schedule of offences should be revised to include the type and nature of the offence (with examples in support) so as to emphasise the minor and petty nature of the dispute. Land disputes, for instance, should only be those that are simple to resolve and the value should attach to the area of land in dispute.

3. Emphasis should be placed in the VC Act on transparency of the process at all stages.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

Assessment of the VC Act 2006 (amended in 2013) is going on through document review and consultation with relevant stakeholders. Meanwhile, the project has generated series of recommendations and are working on developing amendment proposal.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Identify the areas that need to be amended through consultations/assessment
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Initiated
Prepare draft proposal for amendment of VC Act 2006
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/07 Not Initiated
Finalize the proposal for amendment in consultation with relevant stakeholders
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/08 Not Initiated
Submit proposal for amendment to the concern ministry
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/10 Not Initiated
9. Recommendation:

Stories from the VCs should be developed and put on the air in the four most popular TV channels.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

Developing drama and airing them on TV would not increase awareness drastically as this communications tool was mostly popular during the 80s-90s, when people had limited media choices - only state-owned TV, no social media or online platforms etc. However, at present, wider competition exists among various media choices of audience. In addition, developing and airing 4 dramas on 4 popular TV channels at one time would cost approximately USD 120,482, which was not budgeted in TPP, AWP etc. Considering importance of these communications tools as well as contemporary media and content choices of audience, 2 dramas would be developed to broadcast on local dish channels and would explore to air on BTV, the state-owned TV channel to air free or subsidized cost. In addition, these two dramas would be placed in online platforms e.g. Youtube, Facebook, twitter etc. for no cost/less cost.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Develop proposal and concept note on 2 dramas, following remarkable cases successfully resolved by VC (and allocate budget USD 48,190 in AWP and TPP etc.)
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP 2019/04 Not Initiated
Procure vendor to develop 2 dramas and complete production along with approval on draft script, performers and shooting locations
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/09 Not Initiated
Share dramas with local administrations for directives and take initiatives to air on local dish channels, BTV and online platforms to broadcast (allocate budget USD 18,000 for airing 2 dramas on BTV)
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/12 Not Initiated
10. Recommendation:

The Ward Shavas, Open budget meetings, Public hearings and Upazila level Women Development Forums should be approached to communicate the VC message (especially to women).

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

Creating demands of village courts towards the communities, especially women, is one of the important objectives of the project. Therefore, the project has agreed to explore the proposed means of communication to deliver the village courts messages.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Organize meeting with Cabinet, LGSP-III and other relevant projects and influence them through LGD to issue a directive to discuss VC issue in the Ward Shavas, Open budget meetings, Public hearings and Upazila-level Women Development Forums
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
Develop and distribute guideline and key messages (highlighting access to VC by women) for field staff on VC, aiming to deliver VC messages
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/04 Not Initiated
Deliver VC messages through different platform mentioned above
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/05 Not Initiated
Individual lobby with the Upazila Vice Chairs influencing them to raise awareness about access to VC by women during their community interactions
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/05 Not Initiated
11. Recommendation:

District Information Offices are mandated to increase public awareness about government projects, programs and policies. This office can be used to help raising the awareness of the local people about the village courts. A directive sent by the Ministry of Information would be needed to activate the District Information Office to this end. Alternatively, an instruction from the DC office should be sent to the District Information Office, requesting the office to popularize the concept of VCs covering different UPs and Upazilas under the district. A joint meeting should be also organized involving the District Administration, UNDP and the District Information Office to reach consensus and discuss the modalities of future cooperation on the front of awareness raising about the village court.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

The project has agreed to work with the District Information Offices through the Ministry of Information and explore the ideas on possible collaboration aiming to disseminate the village courts messages through government channel. This issue will be discussed in the upcoming PIC and PSC meetings as the Ministry of Information is the member of both committees.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Influence the Ministry of Information through PSC and PIC to issue a directive instructing the District Information Office to popularize the concept of VCs covering different UPs and Upazilas under the district
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/02 Not Initiated
Organize meeting with 27 District Information Officers at Dhaka in coordination with the Ministry of Information
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
Ensure dissemination of VC messages through the District Information Office
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/04 Not Initiated
12. Recommendation:

Using the Government media, such as BTV and Bangladesh Betar, would help raise awareness of the VCs. This modality would also be cost-effective.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24] [Last Updated: 2018/12/24]

This activity is included in the project’s outreach strategy; therefore, the VC messages would be promoted on BTV and Bangladesh Betar through airing drama, TVC (advertisement), news and talk shows etc. (Note: while Bangladesh Betar is cost effective, airing cost on BTV is equal/higher than many popular private TV channels, however project would explore low cost/subsidized programmes on BTV). Opportunities with community radios would be also explored.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Air the news on BTV and Bangladesh Betar
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/06 Initiated
Explore talk shows on BTV and Bangladesh Betar
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/02 Not Initiated
Air TVC (advertisement) on BTV and Bangladesh Betar
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/05 Not Initiated
Air drama on BTV and Bangladesh Betar
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/10 Not Initiated
Explore opportunities with community radios
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
13. Recommendation:

A directive from Cabinet Division/LGD should be sent to the DCs and UNOs to organize the NGO coordination meetings. NGOs will be persuaded to take part in the awareness raising campaign along with their regular activities in the rural areas.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

The outreach strategy developed by the project has already addressed this recommendation.

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Communicate with LGD and provide supports to LGD to issue a directive
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/03 Not Initiated
Influence DC and UNO to issue a directive to the local NGOs to include village courts issue in their regular activities
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/07 Initiated
Organize meetings/workshops at national, district and upazila level with GO and NGO to add village courts issues in their regular outreach activities
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/09 Initiated
Ensure dissemination of VC messages through local NGOs
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP and LGD 2019/07 Initiated
14. Recommendation:

In consultation with BLAST and MLAA, a strategy is developed for engaging with the Bar.

Management Response: [Added: 2018/12/24]

Key Actions:

Key Action Responsible DueDate Status Comments Documents
Explore the idea on possibilities of engagement of Bar and moving them from ‘spoiler’ to supporter having consultation with BLAST and MLAA
[Added: 2018/12/24]
UNDP 2019/02 Not Initiated

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