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Legal Specialist - Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh Phase II Project

Dhaka (Bangladesh)

Background

The formal justice system in Bangladesh is under tremendous pressure with much workload and inadequate number of officials and staff to dispose the cases. Dispute resolution at the local levels may reduce the backlogs of cases in the formal justice sectors. The Village Courts Act 2006, later amended on September 2013, entrusts Union Parishad (UP) to offer justice services for both petty civil and criminal disputes in nature within the pecuniary jurisdiction of BDT 75,000. This justice delivery service aims to enable local peoples resolving their petty disputes and conflicts amicably at their door steps for establishing local peace and harmony for broader development and human rights establishment. 
 
After successful implementation of the pilot phase of Activating Village Courts in Bangladesh project (2009-2015), Local Government Division (LGD) of the Ministry of Local Government, Rural Development and Cooperatives (MoLGRD&C) is on the way of AVCB II, a four year (2016-2019) long project, with financial and technical support of European Union (EU) and UNDP Bangladesh covering 1080 UPs of eight divisions. The overall objective of the project is to improve access to justice for disadvantaged and marginalized groups in Bangladesh. 
 
The expected output of the project is the village Courts in selected UPs are activated, functioning and responsive to the needs of the local justice seekers. Programmes are targeted to build capacity and create awareness of the community members, service providers and other relevant stakeholders about village courts and its functions through a number of capacity building, awareness-raising and community mobilization initiatives. Besides, the project will develop an outreach strategy which intends to develop coherence among the awareness raising interventions, facilitate synergy among similar/social development actors/NGOs in the project areas, responds to the differing needs and information sources for different segments of the population. 
 
There are 5 technical components such as Programme Coordination, Capacity Development, Advocacy-Communications and Outreach, Legal Reform and Monitoring and Evaluation component has been working to reach the objectives. Involving national institutions like NILG, PATC, JATI, BPA the project has a plan to build up the capacity of the stakeholders on village courts. Besides, as a part of implementation strategy it will include hiring NGOs to help LGD for grassroots level capacity building, social mobilization and eventually assisting in activating village courts under the technical support and supervision of project management team. In addition, two committees encompass with inter-ministerial officials, Project Steering Committee (PSC) and Project Implementation Committee (PIC), oversee the project.
 

Duties and Responsibilities

The Legal specialist will work under the guidance and in coordination with the Programme Specialist and will report to the National Project Coordinator. S/he will be responsible for developing a strategy for enabling police and judiciary to refer appropriate cases to the village courts before entering the formal justice system. Presently, the district courts do not have any mechanism for screening or filtering cases coming into the justice system. Consequently, in many cases village courts triable cases are going to the formal justice system and eventually case backlogs are increasing. 
 
The Legal Specialist will also research, analyse and support the Programme Specialist and National Project Coordinator to lobby for directives from the Chief Justice’s Office and/ or Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Law Justice and Parliamentary Affairs, as appropriate, to create a mechanism for carrying out early case screening and referral. S/he will also lead a process for reviewing the Village Courts legal framework, and support capacity development activities with project staff, Government (national and local) officials, and relevant civil society organizations. 
 
Major duties and responsibilities:
  1. Provide advice and develop a strategy with PC to ensure legal framework facilitates case referrals to VCs.
  2. Ensure legal compliance of project and UP activities.
  3. Scrutinize the knowledge products and guide the project in IEC development aligned with the revised VC legal framework.
  4. Support capacity development of project staff and stakeholders
  5. Spend at least 40% of his/her time in field, ensuring implementation is as per the work plan and targets and quality assurance of those interventions;
  6. Organize various workshops/consultations with stakeholders both at central and local level;
 
1. Provide advice and develop a strategy to ensure legal framework facilitates case referrals to VCs. 
  • Arrange workshops with relevant stakeholders on case referral at District level.
  • Plan and implement consultation events for local level advocacy and sensitization with police and judiciary to enable early case screening within the current legal framework.
  • Develop/contribute to research and relevant advocacy for legal and policy changes with relevant stakeholders (MLJPA, MOHA, BP, LGD) to improve mechanisms for early case referral by police and courts.
  • Review existing legal framework including Village Court Acts, Code of Criminal Procedure, Local Government Legislations, and Police Laws and work with LGD to propose relevant amendments to the law.
  • Undertake consultation and contribute to policy level advocacy to remove misalignments between CrPC and VCA, and improve VCA procedures.
  • Develop strategies and priorities for reform of the village courts administration procedures;
  • Arrange national level consultation on proposed amendments.
 
2. Ensure legal compliance of project and UP activities
  • Provide support to Unions Parishads to ensure legal compliance and quality of decision making;
  • Carry out assessments on legal compliance of village courts proceedings;
  • Assess justice service delivery to disadvantaged groups;
  • Plan and undertake field visits to all UPs to monitor performance and ensure village courts documents are compliant with VC legal requirements;
  • Serve as an internal technical expert in development of justice sector institutions including the judiciary, prosecution and access to justice;
  • Spend at least 30% of his/ her time in field, ensuring implementation is as per the work plan and targets and quality assurance of those interventions;
  • Provide necessary support to the project team in legal matters relevant to the programme.
 
3. Scrutinize the project’s knowledge products and provide input in the development of IEC materials.
  • Ensure training materials updated with legal changes and aligned with revised VC Rules.
  • Undertake other related duties as required.
  • Develop standardised systems and procedures for village courts including the development of VC forms.
  • Develop materials and guides for village courts staff and other stakeholders.
  • Review and ensure legal compliance of various IEC materials, knowledge products, capacity development materials etc. before going for printing/wider dissemination;  
 
 
4. Support capacity development of project staff and stakeholders
  • Train/mentor UP chairmen, members, staff and other Village Court personnel on court administration rules, processes, and case management.
  • Contribute to other research activities and in the production of knowledge documents.
  • Support project related reports and research such as the Baseline survey, and results-based reports.
  • Undertake focus group discussions and interviews with targeted stakeholders and gather experiences on legal issues.
  • Provide support for, and deliver presentations at project workshops, seminars, training and delivery of outputs.
  • Produce high-quality analytical reports for the management for matters which require follow-up at the policy level.
 
Impact of Results
  1. Union Parishads understand gender issues in the operation of Village Courts and are able to address them;
  2. Village Courts related laws are reviewed, discussed among the primary stakeholders and proposed for required amendments to the appropriate forums;
  3. Men and women have equal and increased access to justice for minor disputes at local level; and
  4. LGD able to ensure the development of human rights sensitive policies, systems, and services in operation of Village Courts.

Competencies

Corporate Competencies:
  • Demonstrates integrity by modeling the UN’s values and ethical standards (human rights, peace, understanding between peoples and nations, tolerance, integrity, respect, results in orientation (UNDP core ethics) impartiality;
  • Professionalism and commitment to achieve results;
  • Promotes the vision, mission and strategic goals of UNDP;
  • Displays culture, gender, religion, race, nationality, age sensibility, and adaptability.
 
Development and Operational Effectiveness
  • Ability to analyse, interpret and think critically about the legal framework in Bangladesh;
  • Excellent technical understanding of the legal framework;
  • Builds strong relationships with colleagues and stakeholders;
  • Ability to work with high-level government officials, technical specialists, Programme Clusters and Senior Management of UNDP;
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities; 
  • Demonstrates strong organisational and self-management skills;
  • Sensitivity to policy environment and ability to find creative solutions when problems arise; 
  • Ability to plan and organize work accordingly.
 
Communication and Negotiation
  • Excellent research and writing skills, especially legal analysis and legislative drafting; 
  • Strong negotiation and persuasion skills;
  • Ability to deliver training, presentations and workshops.
  • Ability to persuade others through cogent and clear arguments.
 
Behavioural Competencies
  • Understanding of and focus on impact and achieving results for the direct beneficiaries;
  • Focuses on result and responds positively to feedback. 
  • Proactive attitude to work;  
  • Ability to work independently and as an integral part of a team to deliver results. 
  • Ability to think quickly and improvise when necessary. 
  • Demonstrates openness to change and ability to manage complexities 
  • Ability to prioritize and produce results under tight deadlines.
 

Required Skills and Experience

Education
Masters degree or equivalent in law preferably PhD. 
 
Experience
  • Minimum 07 (seven) years professional experience, of which at least 03 (three) years’ relevant experience as legal expert/focal for any institution or rights-based project is required;
  • Experience in legal aid or other roles relating to increasing access to justice system in Bangladesh is essential;
  • Experience in working with local justice system particularly with village courts will be an added advantage;
  • Evidential engagement and experience in legal review, legal reform, drafting law and procedure, policy advocacy is highly essential; 
  • Demonstrated experience in legal analysis essential (writing sample to be submitted with application); 
  • Excellent presentation and communication skills in English and Bangla; 
  • Experience in working with development projects is highly desirable;  
  • Experience in training/capacity development, legal and non-legal audiences highly desirable;
  • Strong computer skills with a knowledge of many desktop applications that will be useful for the position, such as Microsoft Word, Excel, e-mail; 
  • Previous experience in working with UNDP, Government agencies, donors and other development partners will be an added advantage.
Language Requirements: The candidate must have excellent written and verbal skills in English and Bangla.
 

Disclaimer

Before applying, please make sure that you have read the requirements for the position and that you qualify.
Applications from non-qualifying applicants will most likely be discarded by the recruiting manager.
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  • Organization: UNDP - United Nations Development Programme
  • Location: Dhaka (Bangladesh)
  • Grade: SB-4, Service Contract, Local Contractors Agreement - Junior level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Legal - Broad
    • Democratic Governance
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: 2018-07-31

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