UN turns to cricket, leaflets in Bangaldesh

Published: Sunday, December 7, 2003, 23:53 [IST]
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Dhaka: The United Nations turned to cricket and leaflets to draw Bangladesh's attention to a study calling for an overhaul of the judiciary and police force to better serve the poor.

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) staff on Saturday brought out cricketers, film stars, politicians and themselves for a cricket friendly to mark the launch of a report on human security in Bangladesh. "This is definitely an important report," Law Minister Moudud Ahmed said as he opened the match.

Elsewhere on the field, Jorgen Lissner, the UNDP resident representative in Dhaka, said everyone -- from politicians to the private sector to civil society -- needed to work together to bring change. "Human insecurity is like a cancer and no single group of people or causes can be blamed for it," he said.

The UNDP also distributed multicoloured leaflets across Dhaka with Saturday's newspapers to create awareness about rights issues. The report found that much of the criminal justice system worked against the poor in Bangladesh, where nearly 78 percent of the population earns less than two dollars a day.

The high costs, frequent delays and overall inaccessibility of the courts forced most people to be "priced out of the justice system," the report said. The poor were also at a disadvantage when dealing with the police, who are "most responsive to influential members of the community," it said.

It recommended training to make the police more responsive to the poor along with improved monitoring and better wages for the "undervalued police service." The study called for action to stop violence against women such as setting up a help line, launching an awareness campaign and boosting the number of women in government.

Even though the Prime Minister and main Opposition leader are both female, the UNDP said crimes against women, including rape, acid attacks and trafficking, were a "serious problem" in Bangladesh.

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