The Court Department under the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic currently lacks a managerial and institutional strategy necessary to address increasing commercial litigation turnover and legal preparedness among bailiffs, which undermines the credibility and functionality of the judicial system. Despite the progress achieved by the judicial system in improving its commercial law capacity, enforcement of judicial decisions remains a hindrance to an effective commercial dispute resolution framework.
Among the least developed economies in Asia, Kyrgyzstan has been hampered by weak state institutions and a security environment that is not immune to ethnic tensions and social unrest. The judiciary, which had been hindered by political influence and corruption, is now undergoing a process of modernization, supported by IDLO.
In Kyrgyzstan, members of Aksakal courts (Elders courts) expressed an interest in receiving training on their legal jurisdiction and on carrying out their mandate from members of the formal justice system. In April 2017, IDLO facilitated a training program for members from the Chui region (oblast).
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Fred Huston, Country Director. Our work in the justice and rule of law arena in Kyrgyzstan in 2016 took place against a backdrop of ongoing public dissatisfaction with the performance of the judiciary. Many people here still try to blame the judiciary for the ills of the country.
‘Each country faces its own challenges and has its own particularities. But when we join together despite the distances, there emerges an understanding of the fact that we are not alone.
On a recent trip to a Central Asian preliminary detention center, the custodians proudly showed us the new ventilation system to prevent from spread of TB – a cut-in window directly across the door.
The Kyrgyz judiciary is not favorably viewed by the public and, at the same time, the public is not well-informed about the functions and duties of the courts. To assist the judiciary in strengthening communications with the public, IDLO under the USAID-IDLO Judicial Strengthening Program, has been providing assistance in the development of a communications strategy for the judiciary and training of new press secretaries of local courts taking up their duties for the first time in the history of the Kyrgyz Republic.
IDLO has been working with the Kyrgyz Judiciary to support the establishment of a functional, credible and transparent legal system, since the adoption of the 2010 Constitution. Despite many positive developments, the rule of law sector has faced a number of problems – chief among them inadequate financing, which risks undermining judicial independence and makes access to justice a challenge, as well as transparency and accountability.
Funding and spending patterns of the General Procuracy of the Kyrgyz Republic (GP) have remained relatively invariable since Kyrgyzstan became an independent state in 1991. Stagnant funding has had negative implications for the GP, and the Prosecutors’ Training Center (PTC) requires support to train and retrain prosecutors in accordance with changing Kyrgyz legislation and international human rights standards. Additionally, gender inequalities within the GP remain a significant challenge.
In Kyrgyzstan, research indicates that the population not only distrusts the court system but also knows very little about his or her own legal rights or the role of the judiciary.
Until recently, court processes in the Kyrgyz Republic have not been automated. Manual or paper systems still are required and are the norm although automating all processes has started very actively. According the country’s National Target Program for Development of the Judiciary, automated information systems need to be expanded and rolled out to the whole judicial system, not only within all first instance courts, but also second and third instance courts.
Even the best functioning courts, without effective mechanisms for ensuring compliance with their decisions, are in effect perceived as weak institutions, leading to an erosion of public confidence in the rule of law as a whole.
The Kyrgyz Republic has made significant strides in working toward improvements to a justice system shaken to the core following the 2010 Revolution. While a wholesale reselection process of judges changed the landscape and provided hope for real change, it also created a judiciary staffed with many inexperienced, under-skilled first-time judges who are more easily exposed to negative influences - both perceived and real. Consequently, the public mistrusts the judiciary and holds a negative perception of it being corrupt, inefficient and dependent on other branches of government.
As in many transition countries, non-enforcement of court decisions in the Kyrgyz Republic remains a key obstacle to investor confidence. Litigants and lawyers attest to lengthy delays and a large number of unenforced judgments and debtors who hide assets and evade court orders. The Court Department, which is responsible for supervising the work of enforcement agents, conducts its own ad hoc training in cooperation with other government agencies and departments. However, it does not currently offer a systemic training program.