As part of IDLO’s work in Kyrgyzstan to both raise public awareness of the judicial decision-making process and to prepare students for careers in this field, the USAID-IDLO Kyrgyzstan Judicial Strengthening Program (JSP) ran a competition for students based on issuing judicial rulings to specific cases.
More than 30 students took part in the first competition in Bishkek; each of the six teams – representing individual universities - was given a criminal and civil case on which to rule, putting into practice the theoretical knowledge they had gained in the classroom.
‘The preparation for the competition lasted one month. We were asked to recall all the theory that we had been taught at university and investigate a lot of cases,’ according to Irina Mikhailova, a participant from the International University of Central Asia.
‘The importance of this competition for me, as a future professional, was great – we study the theory at university and here, we had an opportunity to put all that knowledge into practice. This is quite a different thing.’
The competitions are being run in cooperation with the Association of Law Clinics of Kyrgyzstan and build on the work the JSP has already been undertaking with universities to organise trial practice (mock courts) for students.
In addition to strengthening legal education in the country, another aim of the competition was to also draw attention to www.sot.kg, a national website where judges record and publish their decisions. This resource, open to the Kyrgyz public, provides access to information on court cases and the opportunity to analyze judicial decisions and better understand the processes involved.
The website is also a useful tool for students to examine how to apply laws in practice; it was created with IDLO’s support and technical assistance to the judiciary under the USAID-IDLO Kyrgyzstan Judicial Strengthening Program.