Every day, children in parts of Central/Eastern Europe and Central Asia have their rights violated, according to an IDLO/UNICEF report on access to justice for children in the region.
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.
Following the April 2010 Revolution in the Kyrgyz Republic, an interim government came to power promising to end many of the injustices that had prompted the overthrow of the country’s previous two presidents. Many reforms carried out during the interim period were focused on improving the foundation and application of the rule of law. Despite initial steps made towards progress in this area, the political events of 2010, including ethnic violence, significantly undermined potential progress in the rule of law.
After a taste of serving as judges, final year law students in Kyrgyzstan were won over by a role they’d previously dismissed as a career option.
More than 30 students from the Kyrgyz National University’s Faculty of Law took part in the second Mock Court Course supported by IDLO.
In a bare-bones, underheated court house in snow-bound Issy-Kul, Kyrgyzstan, a woman tells IDLO a story. This story is her own. She tells how, just out of girlhood, she was studying law, away from her village. Once, while on a visit back home, the young woman saw a car pull up. Men jumped out and grabbed her: she was, she knew, being bride-kidnapped.
Advancing the potential of the judiciary is an important step in generating a rule of law culture in Kyrgyzstan. To encourage this, the USAID-IDLO Kyrgyzstan Judicial Strengthening Program (JSP) held a Moot Trial on April 28, as part of its Mock Court Course at the National Legal Academy in Bishkek.
For the past ten years, both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have been working toward judicial reform, sharing common challenges along the way. Yet while Kyrgyzstan has opened up to the international community and shown positive change, Tajikistan has been more reluctant.
IDLO has partnered with UNICEF to study the factors which support or inhibit children’s equitable access to justice in post-communist societies. The nine-month research project in Albania, Montenegro, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan will conclude in 2014. It will provide greater insight into local realities, concerns and approaches, and make culturally appropriate, sustainable and effective recommendations for policy and programming.
The Bishkek Forum, held in the Kyrgyz capital in March 2013, was an international conference organized by IDLO to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and improve the administration of justice across much of the former Soviet space. The Forum drew chief justices from host nation Kyrgyzstan, neighbors Kazakhstan and Tajikistan, as well as regional superpower Russia, Georgia and Ukraine to discuss the effective and transparent management of courts.
BISHKEK, March 15, 2013 – An efficient judicial system is crucial to development. Yet from Moldova in the west to Mongolia in the east, underfunding of judicial systems remains the norm. Five countries in the region devote less than 0.5 percent of their national budget to the sector. In Kyrgyzstan, funding halved between 2008 and 2012.
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.
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.