The Rohingya people of Rakhine State, Myanmar, have suffered systematic persecution and human rights violations for decades. Stripped of Burmese citizenship in 1982, their very existence as a stateless people has been defined by their lack of rights or recourse for injustice. Until a time when the international community can ensure their safe and sustainable return to Myanmar, the 1.2 million Rohingya living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh must have access to effective justice mechanisms to ensure their protection and recourse for rights violations. Access to systems of justice – whether community dispute resolution forums or legal systems mandated by the state – is essential to ensuring the protection of basic rights. Without non-discriminatory access to systems of justice, social tensions are increasingly irresolvable, violence becomes cyclical or used as a tool to resolve conflicts, and essential rights are eroded. Justice empowers people to make informed decisions about their lives.
Building on IRC’s assessment of Rohingya and host community justice systems in Cox’s Bazar, this briefing illustrates the importance of interventions to expand access to justice mechanisms for displaced populations, with a particular focus on the acute protection needs of women and girls. It concludes with recommendations for how the Government of Bangladesh, international donors, multilateral agencies and NGOs can work together to support and develop effective legal services in Cox’s Bazar, assist women & girls in seeking recourse for rights violations, and ultimately set a precedent for the future protection of refugees in protracted crises.