Recent research supported by Islamic Relief Bangladesh surveyed 395 households who belong to the camp-based Urdu-speaking community in Mirpur, an area of Dhaka, Bangladesh. The survey, along with a few focus groups, explored the situation of the community in terms of income, education, discrimination, freedom of movement, and other rights.
The community received confirmation of their Bangladeshi nationality in a 2008 High Court decision, and this research also captured some basic statistics about the level of legal identity documentation in the Mirpur camps - as well as other community perspectives on citizenship documentation and rights:
When it comes to their Civil and Political Rights, a sinister trend begins to develop. Of those surveyed, 77.8 percent have no Birth Certificates yet almost 85 percent of them received their National Identity Cards. A focus group discussion revealed that the respondents knew of the importance of both NID and Birth Certificates, in terms of opening a bank account, applying for a job, to avail certain government service etc. Interestingly, of the 307 respondents without Birth Certificates, only 13 percent ever actually applied to get theirs. The issue of passports is another bone of contention. 5 percent of the respondents actually have a passport, many of those who don’t describe horror stories of when they applied. Some claim to have been asked to “prove their citizenship” whilst others were said to be rejected on the basis of not having a “permanent address” with their Geneva Camp addresses being refused all recognition.
The research finds that most people do have national ID cards - as the court ordered the government to issue these documents in 2008 - but acquiring other documentation and using this documentation to access rights and services remains a challenge. Many people who lack documents haven’t even tried to apply.
Namati and Council of Minorities (@urdu) partner on a joint paralegal program focused on citizenship, active in Urdu-speaking camp communities in 7 cities throughout Bangladesh. (Find more information on the Urdu-speaking community and the paralegal program here.) We plan to conduct an evaluation of the program soon, to understand better where paralegals are making an impact and where our program strategy needs refining, to truly solve many of the complex citizenship-related challenges highlighted in this article.
What are your reactions to the statistics on documentation? What kinds of research or data have supported your own efforts to design and refine citizenship rights program strategies? Could this kind of information influence change within local or national government practice in Bangladesh? @mustafa_mahmoud @Zamil @zia @ManishaPoudel @SomPrasadNiroula @lore @aishakhagai @ctheano