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.
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.
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.
Recruiting for: court judges.
Remuneration: $300 to $600/month.
IDLO has been working with the government of Kyrgyzstan to establish a functional, credible and transparent legal system since the adoption of the 2010 Constitution.
Despite many positive developments over the last four years, the rule of law sector continues to face problems; inadequate financing risks undermining judicial independence and makes access to justice a challenge.
Amid pressure to clean up public life in Kyrgyzstan, IDLO has helped draft a bill on conflict of interest. The challenge was both practical and political: Kyrgyzstan is a relatively small country with strong rural traditions, large, close-knit families, and a well-established culture of favors. The new law would ban any payment from interested parties, either in money or in kind, as well as gifts. This includes property, foreign travel or invitations to banquets, shows and sporting events.
Efforts to curb corruption appear to be gaining crucial momentum in Kyrgyzstan, as a bill on conflict of interest gathers cross-sector support. The bill, drafted with technical help from the USAID-IDLO Kyrgyzstan Judicial Strengthening Program, is being formally championed by Erkin Alymbekov, chairman of the Human Rights committee of the Kyrgyz parliament.
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.