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Law and human rights annual report 2000/2001

Activities in South Asia

The British Council in Bangladesh

  • Held a human rights film and cartoon festival which aimed to provide a forum for reflection and debate on the violation and preservation of human rights. The films were shown in Dhaka and Chittagong. Amongst the themes covered were women’s rights, child rights, migrant worker issues and general human rights. Each show was followed by seminars and panel discussions.

  • Held a workshop on the legal status of women in Bangladesh. The workshop was intended to raise awareness on issues surrounding the status of women in Bangladesh and to sensitise and mobilise policy makers, opinion leaders and change agents to consider actions to address problems. It was attended by 120 participants from the public, voluntary and academic sectors, as well as from the media.

  • Organised an international seminar on Women in national politics. The objective of the seminar was to enhance women’s political participation in the political process and to support a nation-wide movement for reform of election procedures in Bangladesh to assure the equal representation of women. The seminar was followed by a planning workshop which looked at ways of building strategies in elections, media and lobbying.

  • Managed a project to support women who have survived acid attacks to help ensure they have access to appropriate medical and legal services and assistance with rehabilitation. Sixty per cent of victims have now received assistance. A database was developed to record the details of incidents. A media campaign was also established and the national government subsequently introduced legislation to address the problem.

  • Hosted the steering group meeting for a South Asia Judicial Colloquium Series. The meeting was attended by 18 participants, including the chief justices of Bangladesh, India and Nepal, and judges and lawyers from the superior courts of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. In the meeting agreement was reached on the need for a three-year South Asian Judicial Colloquium Series and a contact group of judges was established from the region, together with an advisory group for convening the series. A preliminary meeting subsequently took place.

  • Held seminars on consumer education in five regions of Bangladesh which provided an opportunity to raise awareness of the issue of consumer rights and the protection of those rights. The seminars were attended by local elected representatives, professionals, academics, civil society representatives, representatives of district level chambers, environmentalists and activists.

  • Organised a seminar on consumer protection law with the objectives of promoting consumer rights as human rights in Bangladesh and raising awareness on the concept of consumer rights.

  • Ran a workshop entitled Effective training for journalists on the internet to promote human rights practice, which included basic and practical training on the emergence of the world wide web as a new mass medium, together with more advanced training on conceptual and theoretical issues.
The British Council in India

  • Held a four-day film and cartoon festival on human rights. The themes addressed were human rights, women’s rights, child rights and gay/lesbian rights.

  • Ran a two-day training session on counselling for lesbians and NGOs working with women, together with films and seminars on lesbian rights including issues related to violence, law and the role of the media.

  • Held two seminars, a poster competition and exhibition and film shows on violence against women in Calcutta and Nadia Districts.

  • Ran five training programmes on the rights of street children with disabilities.

  • Ran a training programme on child protection for a multi-professional group conducted by a member of the Calcutta office and a British police officer. There were in addition two training programmes for the Calcutta police on community policing and child-friendly policing.

  • Ran four seminars on the rights of young people with disabilities.

  • Launched two books, The house I grew up in and Bitter chocolate looking at child sexual abuse in India.
The British Council in Nepal

  • Managed a training project working with performers and community development workers on a participatory theatre approach to the rights of women and girls. This is a three-phase project with two phases now complete.

  • Ran a human rights film and cartoon festival to raise the profile of, and stimulate debate about, all human rights issues in Nepal. The focus of the films was human rights, child rights and gender-related issues. Accompanying activity included videos, websites, seminars and panel discussions.

  • Organised a training programme on trial advocacy conducted by two UK barristers and attended by senior legal academics and lawyers. The objectives of the event were to raise awareness of the importance of advocacy to all lawyers at every level of seniority and of the benefits to lawyers of acquiring advocacy skills, and to train lawyers in advocacy techniques.
The British Council in Pakistan

  • Held a seminar on Devolution: The reality to discuss the devolution plan unfolded by the Chief Executive of Pakistan. The event attracted considerable media attention and a large number of participants from diverse backgrounds. See the website www.britishcouncil.org.pk/infoexch/pakdev.htm

  • Organised a training programme on criminal justice and human rights at Pakistan College of Law in Lahore. This aimed to build the capacity of the teaching faculty at the college to incorporate human rights into its LLB programme.

  • Held a national workshop on Gender and governance to celebrate International Women’s Day. Subjects covered included politics and law; arts and literature; business, industry and entrepreneurship; and communication, media and IT. Other events included a poster exhibition, Women at work.

  • Hosted a visit by two UK consultants who reported on the Pakistan College of Law Lahore and on the development of an election monitoring website.

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