Experts proposed a number of recommendations to improve the law on state–guaranteed free legal aid

14 May 2014

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan – As part of the amendments to the law on free legal aid, experts propose to expand the range of people eligible to receive free legal aid and that such services should be provided not only in criminal cases, but also in civil ones. These proposals were discussed during a number of meetings that took place in Bishkek.

The main objective of expected changes is to improve the mechanism for provision of qualified legal aid and access to justice for vulnerable groups.

Currently, government provides sufficient amount of funding for free legal aid, but due to the  heavy-handed mechanisms, poor awareness of population and absense of common supervisory authority the considerable part of the money is spent  ineffectively.

Experts from countries with successful experience in provision of free legal services to the public participated in the mentioned meetings. Sharing their experiences, international experts noted that the demand for high level of legal aid requires substantive funding.

Head of the monitoring center for provision of legal aid under the Ministry of Justice of Ukraine Andrey Vishnevskiy noted that subsidized legal aid can be effective only when all organization, coordination and control functions are concentrated in one institution with an independent legal status”.

The discussions resulted in several specific recommendations for improving the law "On state-guaranteed legal aid":

  • Establish an institution, which will be capable of managing the process and ensure the quality;
  • Expand the range of people eligible to receive free legal aid;
  • Legally expanding free legal aid civil cases (not only in criminal cases)

All recommendations were passed to expert task force led by the Head of the President’s Office.

The current law on free legal aid was passed in 2009 and Kyrgyzstan has accumulated quite a significan experience in this area. Experts identified barriers to effective implementation of the law and issues that must be resolved to ensure high quality legal assistance from the government.

The discussions were organized with support of UNDP as part of the project "Widening Access to Justice for Legal Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic" that provides expertise and technical assistance to support the government’s initiative to improve the quality of state-guaranteed legal aid. The project is funded by the Government of Finland and Soros Foundation in Kyrgyzstan.