Juridical support on wheels

Jan 18, 2018

“The Bus of Solidarity” plies along Osh and Chui regions for two years so far, providing free juridical assistance for the local population. A team of professional advocates, Ministry of Justice’s employees and state notaries advise local people about all issues concerning rights. 

During these two years, Bus of Solidarity has given more than 7 thousand consultations and now makes its fourth cycle along the pilot regions. In general, it has covered areas occupied by more than 2 million people. To let the population, know beforehand about the lawyers’ arrival, a schedule of trips is arranged in close cooperation with the Aiyl Okmotu (Village Authority). 

“We accomplish approximately 15 trips in a month and visit 2 Aiyl Okmotu in a day. In one village, we advise for 2-3 hours and try to serve 10-15 people. For individuals, we prepare documents and applications to judicial or other institutions in the office with the reference to normative acts. For a month, we prepare written answers approximately for 8-10 citizens and send them by mail or via WhatsApp”, - says Sovetbek Zakirov, lawyer of the project “Bus of Solidarity”. 

Residents mainly seek with problems regarding inheritance of property, receipt of documents, registration of alimony, guardianship issues, payment of communal services, registration and processing of housing. 

A resident of Kant city, Musa kyzy Jyrgal could not succeed in registering her house for many years. “My friends told me about the Bus of Solidarity. It helped me with applying to the court and solving problems. I am very grateful to them. There are a lot of people among my acquaintances who do not know their own rights and have no idea where to appeal. Money is essential everywhere. Therefore, a common population really needs such a help”, - says Jyrgal. 

The rights of one person end, where the rights of another begin. 

According to the lawyer of the Bus of Solidarity, Gulzat Tologonova, a problem of land registration is the most topical issue: “Sometimes people refer with problems, solutions of which are in the competence of the Supreme Council (Zhogorku Kenesh). For instance, to the Aiyl Okmotu of Novopavlovka came two parties for a consultation and on one party there are citizens who own 6-7 hectares of allotment each on a legal basis. But at the moment those acres are illegally occupied by dwellings, unlawful constructions and resales of lands are still kept on there. Paradoxically, the second party came for an advice on how to register those plots. 

“At the present day a perception of rights is not at such high level that we would like it to be, – complains Aibek Chotonov, head of the Legal Propaganda Department of the Ministry of Justice. - In society, there are incidents, which occur on a daily basis when people violate the rights of each other, think merely about their own rights and are not concerned about others’ ones. The rights of one person end where the rights of another begin. “

“Also, there is another example in one Aiyl Okmotu. A group of people has come to us for an advice to solve dormitory legal problems. There are widows, the disabled people, and pensioners among them. Now we prepare an appeal to the Aiyl Okmotu in order to help those residents with registering and receiving documents. Otherwise, we will have to turn to higher authorities, – said Gulzat Tologonova. - Local government is obligated to solve such problems of citizens as receiving a pension, passing a disability commission, soliciting to the SRS for documents obtainment.”

Along with ordinary citizens, lawyers of the Bus of Solidarity have to advise and improve the legal literacy of local government employees as well. According to the deputy of the local Kenesh of Saz Aiyl Okmotu Dosmambetov Asylbek, there is no lawyer in Aiyl Okmotu, and legal issues arise almost every day: “From the Bus of Solidarity lawyers we obtain legal consultations and information about norms of law for further clarifications of local residents’ rights.”

The project” Bus of Solidarity” is carried out within the framework of implementing a “Concept of Raising a Legal Culture of the Population”, which was accepted by the Government of Kyrgyz Republic. “This concept is a very voluminous strategic document in a realization of which there are almost all public bodies involved. The main section is a legal education of citizens from the school bench. At present, the Ministry of Justice jointly with the Ministry of Education introduce a subject called “Legal Education” to all grades from 1 to 11, – says Aibek Chotonov. - UNDP and Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs project “Widening access to justice in the KR” supported us in accepting and implementation of this concept”. 

“Irresponsibility is the main cause of problems.”

The head of Pervomay Aiyl Okmotu Asylbek Bakirov emphasizes a need to increase social responsibility of a population and necessity to teach duties as well as rights: “Local residents often demand from us clearing away a garbage which is naturally formed by themselves. Doubtlessly, it is our responsibility to keep our territory clean. Nevertheless, residents react very negatively to our request not to leave rubbish anywhere. Knowing about one’s rights is great, but at the same time not being aware of one’s duties is wrong”.

Aibek Chotonov claims that there is no normal society or state without the proper level of population’s legal conscience: “We learned thoroughly experiences of other countries, where everyone accentuates that first of all, it is significant to start with the legal culture. With an appropriate level of population’s legal culture, a country becomes attractive from all perspectives including investments, economic growth, job vacancies.”

“Analysis of problems appealed to “Bus of Solidarity’s lawyers shows that the fundamental reason of their occurrence is irresponsibility, - says Gulzat Tologonova, - irresponsibility in all senses, since ignorance of laws does not absolve from responsibility. And responsibility means not only the actions, intentions of one individual but of an institute, state, and society in general.”

Meri Bekeshova, UNDP and Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland “Widening access to justice in the Kyrgyz Republic” project Communication Specialist 


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