A man transporting jeans on a rikshaw

Core area “Peaceful and inclusive societies” Strengthening an independent judiciary

The human rights situation in Bangladesh is cause for concern. Violations of basic rights are not prosecuted systematically or effectively enough. Furthermore, Bangladeshi citizens are not yet sufficiently aware of their rights. Germany is supporting Bangladesh in its efforts to fully reform its justice system and its prisons.

The general framework, though, has improved: Bangladesh has now ratified all international human rights conventions. In 2010, it was the first South Asian state to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Supervisory bodies, including a national human rights commission and an anti-corruption commission, have been put in place. However, these bodies still lack sufficient numbers of staff and funding.


The justice system in Bangladesh is marked by corruption, inefficiency and political influence. For example, the courts are overstretched, judgements can be a long time in coming, the prisons are overcrowded and conditions in prison often inhumane. Many prisoners are unaware that they could seek legal assistance.

Thus, with Germany’s support the Justice Ministry, for example, is being given advice on overhauling outdated legislation. The aim is to ensure that all citizens, whether male or female, have equal access to a fair trial.

One focus of cooperation is on providing legal support to people who have been imprisoned and on assisting in their rehabilitation. With Germany's support, a paralegal service, consisting of legal counsels provided by non-governmental organisations, was set up. These paralegals were able in the period from 2012 to 2019 to obtain the release of more than 22,000 people who had been imprisoned without trial. Based on these positive experiences, the paralegal service was rolled out to other districts.