In 2016, Farzana Akter of the University of Dhaka published an article in the Asian Journal of Criminology, outlining the legal obligations on the part of the Bangladeshi state to make legal aid accessible from the earliest stages of criminal proceedings.
At the time, there was very little data available on the extent to which people were able to access legal aid and at what stages they were able to do so. In 2016, the Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs commissioned a Justice Audit in order to build an evidence base for justice sector reform. The Justice Audit establishes a system for regularly collecting different types of data, from across the criminal justice system, for the purpose of informing policymaking and programming. With the help of this data, it is now possible to demonstrate the potential effect of the reforms recommended by Farzana Akter, not only in making the Bangladeshi criminal justice system more compliant with both international and domestic law, but also in terms of reducing the perennial overcrowding in the country’s prisons.