On Friday 20 December, PRI and its partner organisation, the Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) held a joint seminar on the use of probation as an alternative to imprisonment in Bangladesh.
While the legislative framework in Bangladesh allows for offenders charged with a wide range of minor offences to be placed on probation, it is rarely used, and overreliance on prison sentences has contributed to severe prison overcrowding (Bangladesh’s prisons are 214.8% over capacity according to latest figures).
The seminar was chaired by the Hon Justice M Imman Ali, a member of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and a PRI Board Member. Participants included representatives from the government, prison service and the judiciary.
The keynote speech by research consultant, Tajul Islam, focused on the forthcoming joint PRI/BLAST report – the Development and use of the probation in Bangladesh – which examines the history of probation, its use today and presents recommendations for its future development.
Reasons given by participants for the low use of probation orders include:
- an overall shortage of probation officers
- barriers to probation officers carrying out their duties effectively, including lack of seating for them in courts, lack of support staff, and transport costs
- lack of awareness of the possibility of probation among police officers, lawyers and even judges
- migrant populations who do not have the fixed address needed for the implementation of a probation order.
A number of recommendations emerged from the discussions including:
- increasing awareness about probation among relevant officials
- increasing the number of probation officers in every district
- increasing human resources support for probation officers
- increasing public awareness
- training young lawyers on probation via the Bar Associations.
Read the seminar report
Download the seminar agenda
Read the executive summary of the report (English). It will also be available in Bangla.