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     Volume 2 Issue 2| January 10, 2010|


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HRSS celebrates 10 years of Rebellious Lawyering

Tabassum Mokhduma

MODERN theories of law and legal education are based on the appreciation that law has great social value and it ought to play a social engineering role. Thus, the students of law must be taught law not merely as a body of formal norms and rules to be mechanically applied in case of their violation and to secure rule of law, but as a concept for protecting human rights and attaining total justice in the society.

In a country like Bangladesh, empowerment of the people specially marginalized and ultra poor sections of the people is one of the keys to development. And to do so, it is very important to train the future generation lawyers in such a way so that they can work with the poor, for the betterment of the poor.

Thus, to make the changes, some 10 years ago, Empowerment through the Law of Common People (ELCOP), a non-government law research institution came up with the idea of Human Rights Summer School (HRSS), which is a two-week residential course on human rights jurisprudence, directed by Dhaka University Law Professor Dr. Mizanur Rahman.

Last December, ELCOP organized the 10th HRSS 2009 which was held at Proshika HRDC Trust, Koitta, Manikgonj from 10 to 21 December 2009 with the participation of 54 selected law students of 14 universities of home and abroad, where the theme of HRSS was 'Post-Conflict Justice, Peace and Human Rights.' The theme is particularly significant when Bangladesh is waiting to bring the perpetrators of international crimes of 1971 to justice.

From Bangladesh the participating institutions were University of Dhaka (DU), University of Chittagong (CU), University of Rajshahi (RU), Islamic University, Stamford University, Southeast University, Premier University Chittagong, London College of Legal Studies (South), BRAC Human Rights and Legal Services Program, Northern University and Sylhet International University; while Kathmandu School of Law (KSL) participated from Nepal and from Iran the participating universities were Mofid University and Khorasgan Islamic Azad University. The selected 54 students of these institutions underwent in this intense human rights and art of advocacy course. Academicians, Jurists, Human Rights Activists formed the corpus of the teaching faculty.

Dr. Shirin Sharmin Choudhury, honorable State Minister for Women and Children Affairs inaugurated the 10th HRSS while Dr. Shah Alam, Member of Bangladesh Law Commission, Professor Dr. Abul Barkat, Chairman of Janata Bank Limited graced the occasion as honorable guests. The opening ceremony was presided over by Professor Mustafizur Rahman, Treasurer, ELCOP.

In the span of 12 days, the residential event trained the students on several issues like rights of women, children, marginalized people, internally displaced persons, and migrant workers among others. Besides, there were several group works, presentations, field works, academic excellence competition, moot court competition etc.

In the closing ceremony Justice Md. Fazlul Karim, was present as Chief Guest and Professor Dr. A. A. M. S. Arefin Siddique, Honorable Vice-Chancellor, DU was present as special guest. The closing ceremony was presided over by Justice Mohammad Golam Rabbani, Chairman, ELCOP.

The guests and the resource persons of the event expressed that to make a difference in the peoples' life; the lawyers need to be rebellious so that they can ensure justice in the society.

Directed by ELCOP Executive Director Dr. Mizanur Rahman, Professor of Department Law, DU; HRSS's chief motto is 'lawyering with the poor is lawyering for justice'. In the span of 10 years, ELCOP has so far produced over 450 'rebellious lawyers' who are educated to interpret law for the protection and promotion of human rights. On the eve of 10th Year a souvenir has been published marking the achievements of HRSS. Besides, on 18th December ELCOP organized the reunion of the HRSS alumni in the same venue. It was a day when participants of 10 different batches of HRSS shared their experiences and priceless HRSS moments.

At the end of the 11 days of residential training, Gazi Sangita Farzana of DU bagged the Justice K M Subhan Memorial Trophy for best Mooter; Md. Golam Mostofa Hasan of DU received the Professor KAA Quamruddin Memorial Award for best academic excellence while Parshmani Pokharel from KSL recieved the Professor Z I Chowdhury best Fellowship Award. Besides, Best Performance award on behalf of Mofid University, Iran and Khorasgan Islamic Azad University, Iran went to Jubaida Roushan Ara of DU and Mokarramus Saklan of CU.

HRSS is different in the sense that in HRSS, the students get the scope to learn through brainstorming, group reading, community visit etc. instead of traditional learning method. They get the opportunity of coming in contact with the legal giants of the country and overseas. Thus, HRSS helps build poor-friendly rebellious legal professionals who can go to any extent to ensure justice.

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