Ain o Salish Kendra

Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) a non-government legal aid and human rights organisation, was established in 1986 to provide free legal services to the poor women, working children and workers in Dhaka city. Over the last twenty five years ASK has evolved many strategies for the promotion and protection of legal and human rights. These strategies are human rights awareness, legal aid through mediation and litigation, investigations into human rights violations and their documentation and research and public interest litigation for law and policy reform. ASK's activities specially focus on providing legal aid to victims of arbitrary arrest and preventive detention and taking stand against unlawful evictions, extra judicial killings, torture and death in custody, condition of the prisoners and the religious and ethnic minorities.

ASK's advocacy is carried out both at the national and international level. Its publications are an important means of disseminating information and knowledge.

It has no political affiliation and adopts a non-partisan approach at all times. To establish the rule of law on the principles of equality, democracy, human rights, justice and gender equity is its goal.

ASK's activities are spread all over Bangladesh. Its public interest litigation and its media campaigns make a national impact. It carries out specific programmes at the grass roots in partnership with NGOs in 40 unions of 10 districts so to promote community activism for gender and social justice and human rights. Along with providing legal services aid in Dhaka, since April 2008 ASK has extended legal aid activities to Chittagong, Barisal and Hobigonj districts and since May 2009 to Tangail, Shatkhira and Rajshahi districts by partnering with six local NGOs. In January 2009, ASK has extended its outreach programme to Bogra district. Fact finding investigations into human rights violations are carried out in twelve districts by human rights defenders' forum, whose members have been trained by ASK staff. Working children are given an opportunity for basic and general education at twelve full times and twenty-one part time drop in centres. Liaison with their parents, employers and community representatives enable ASK to protect their rights and prevent violence.

While primarily supported with funds from several donor organisations, ASK also raises its own funds through human rights education, training and sale of publications and services.

ASk is actively engaged with Social Action Committee, Human Rights Forum on Universal Periodic Review (URP), Citizen's Initiative for CEDAW, Citizen's Initiative on Domestic Violence, Coalition for the Urban Poor (CUP), are Bangladesh Shisu Adhikar Forum (BSAF). ASK is also an active member of regional and international human rights forms, Included among the remarkable forms are the Asian Forum for Human rights and development (Forum-Asia), the Asia Pacific Forum for Women, Law and Development (APWLD), the International Women's rights Action Watch-Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), South Asians for Human rights, South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), Women Living under Muslim Laws (WLUML) and Asian NGOS Network for the National Human Rights Institutions (ANNI). Moreover ASK interacts with several International agencies including Amnesty International (AI), Human Rights Watch (HRW), Commonwealth Secretariat, Bangladesh Forum, Germany.

ASK has been maintaining special consultative status with the UNECOSOC since 31 July 1998 and engages in advocacy with UN agencies, treaty monitoring bodies and special procedures on issues of concern. ASK was registered as a society with the Registrar of Joint Stock Companies and Firms, under the Societies Registration Act 1860 on 20 September 1986. It was also registered with the NGO Affairs Bureau, under the Foreign Donations (voluntary contributions) Regulation Ordinance, 1978 on 28 June 1993. ASK also holds the Europe Aid Potential Applicants Database Online Registration (PADOR) ID BD-2008-DNK- 0201660464.

ASK is a membership-based organisation. Founded by nine members ASK now comprises 32 members. Its programmes at present are being run by 231 staff, 171 women and 60 men. [Sayeed Ahmad]