Ten-day free legal aid campaign to end in Kyrgyzstan

Dec 2, 2015

Nurjan Tashtanov, State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Aliona Nikulita, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan are opening the Free Legal Aid Centre, Tokmok city, November 20, 2015

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (27 November 2015) – Ten-day campaign on providing free legal aid for the population in Kyrgyzstan has finished. The Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic conducted the campaign from November 18 to December 1, 2015 as part of UNDP and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland joint project "Widening access to justice in the Kyrgyz Republic" and  Soros Foundation - Kyrgyzstan.

Access to justice is one of the key aspects of a rule-of-law and democratic state. Ability to obtain legal aid and legal awareness of citizens are integral and important part of access to justice.

According to the Law on state-guaranteed legal aid, citizens have right for legal aid only in criminal cases. However, most of the citizens, especially vulnerable groups, need legal aid and information.

A baseline study on access to justice conducted under the project "Widening access to justice in the Kyrgyz Republic" in two oblasts (Chui and Osh) showed that vulnerable groups face specific obstacles in exercising their rights. Many people suffer from discrimination, violence and economic dependence. Lack of experience and education as well as absence of required credentials make it difficult to appeal to formal and informal justice sectors. Legal knowledge of women, young people and people with disabilities is relatively poor. Access to legal advice and representation is limited due to lack of qualified lawyers in rural and remote regions of the country, as well as the cost of legal services.

Within campaign period citizens had opportunity to access providers of legal services and obtain free legal advice. The staff of the Free Legal Aid Centers at Regional Departments of Justice, public notaries, lawyers, lawyers of public legal aid offices, legal clinics at universities, NGOs took active participation in ten-day free legal aid campaign.

This event was held for widening access to justice, raising public awareness to enhance people’s capacity to defend their rights.

As part of the campaign, ceremonial opening of Free Legal Aid Centre of the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic in Tokmok city was held on November 20, 2015.

State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Nurjan Tashtanov, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan Aliona Nikulita, representatives of local courts and law enforcement agencies, local governments, experts and lawyers of international organizations took part in the opening ceremony.

According to the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice Nurjan Tashtanov, “the main objectives of the center are providing free legal aid, promoting legal awareness, raising the level of legal protection of vulnerable groups, ensuring access to justice, assisting implementation of rights, freedoms and legitimate interests of citizens.”

“The project “Widening access to justice in the Kyrgyz Republic” assisted the Ministry of Justice in opening three similar centers in Chui oblast (in cities of Tokmok and Bishkek, in the village of Belovodskoe) and two centers in Osh (in cities of Osh and Kara-Suu). Opening of few more such centers is planned for next year. For these projects to work in the future we provide financial support specifically to state agencies. The Ministry and local authorities will coordinate and develop it further" - said during the opening ceremony Aliona Nikulita, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative in Kyrgyzstan.

"Free Legal Aid Centers will employ highly qualified lawyers to be available on established schedule. Currently, we focus on providing real and effective implementation of state commitments in provision of free legal aid", - said Maripa Seydalieva, Head of Advocacy and Notary Department of the Ministry of Justice.

Contact information

UNDP and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland projectWidening access to justice for legal empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic. Project coordinator Ainura Alymbekova  Tel.: +996 (312) 694381 (ext. 145), Fax: +996 (312) 694363 ainura.alymbekova@undp.org

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