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„People do not still believe that the state can provide really good legal aid to those, who seek justice. Our main goal is to restore this confidence“, - Akzhol Kalbekov said, a director of the FLA coordination center (FLA CC) under the Ministry of Justice.

The interview with A.Kalbekov on establishment of the state guaranteed legal aid system in Kyrgyzstan and implementation of a unified state policy in the field of legal aid is provided below.

Establishment of the state guaranteed legal aid system

The free legal aid was known as a „government attorney“  from the Soviet times. Unfortunately, following independence, the implementation of this aid was formal and the quality was neglected.

In 2005, the Presidential decree was issued and the Human rights development concept was adopted. A working team under the Ministry of Justice was created within the frameworks of this concept to provide legal aid from the state that worked for 4-5 years.

-        There were people, who did not believe in implementation of this concept. Some reputable lawyers thought that it would remain declarative as before. However, the Law „On the state guaranteed legal aid“ was adopted in 2009 following the study and the analysis of the processes, the compliance practices and the international experience in protecting the rights of vulnerable groups.

The Law came into force in 2011, was  tested twice in two or three regions and then was completely introduced throughout the country.

The feature of the first law was that free lawyers were provided only in criminal cases. The mechanisms of quality improvement and implementation were not clearly defined. The issues of organization, coordination and monitoring were not included in that document.

In 2013, as a part of the judicial reform, a number of codes and laws were adopted and a new version of the law on the state guaranteed legal aid was being developed. This law was completely harmonized with other laws adopted in December 2016 and made effective in 2017.

The Law provided for establishment of a state coordination organization. On May 31, 2017, the FLA CC under the Ministry of Justice was established.


It has become a center covering all regions for 4 years.

When it was just established, it did not have an office and staff. It only had a center of the paper nature. Four very important areas were defined and provided with the required staff.

The first was to develop the internal regulatory framework. The issue regarding submission, development and adoption of relevant Government resolutions was raised.

The second was to improve the quality of legal aid and to introduce relevant mechanisms.

The third was to inform the public of legal aid.

The fourth was to create the conditions for the work of lawyers and coordinators.


-        We transformed the lawyers‘ salary into fees. We had great difficulties in this area since it was directly connected with the state budget – the republican budget, and it was  required to do much more in order to justify and to convince the government. The role of the Kyrgyz Bar association was enormous and this work was implemented owing to them. As soon as this decision was taken, we convinced the lawyers to join our system. Famous lawyers and professionals started to join our system.

Numbers. In 2017, KGS 15-16 million was allocated to the lawyers from the budget. From 2019, KGS 74 million was channelled to payment of the lawyers‘ fee.

Quality improvement mechanisms

New mechanisms have been introduced. If the lawyer wants to receive his fee, a document is issued to him according to the relevant quality standards, where the minimum actions required from the lawyer are clearly specified and the state allocates the funds only if these actions are fulfilled.

Facts. Previously, about 230 lawyers have been involved in this system, but their number has increased twice for less than a year since introduction of this mechanism – now we have 450 lawyers.

-        According to our analysis, the lawyers, who work formally, automatically leave the state guaranteed legal aid system. However, not all lawyers provide good aid, there are different lawyers among them.

Achievements: According to the analysis, the quality of the state guaranteed legal aid over the past two years has increased by 65%. According to the results of 2019, the court has exculpated  8 people, who have received free legal aid. This has never happened in the history of free legal aid. Following independence by 2020, 14 people have been exculpated by the court with the help of the lawyers of the system.

More and more people apply from year to year.  On the one hand, it is good, because the citizens receive more information. But on the other hand, it shows that the population has many problems. However, not only legal aid is used in this field, but relevant measures are also taken to improve the legal culture.

We have analyzed that the problems within the legal framework are connected with a low level of the legal culture, ignorance of the law and that our citizens solve the problem „in Kyrgyz“. In developed countries, before taking any action, a person will apply to a lawyer, consult with him and will then act.

We have „hand shaking, promise“ or we are looking for acquaintances. Therefore, we have many problems. People do not still believe that the state can provide good aid. That’s why our main goal is to restore confidence that the state can really provide good aid. In future, we will work over introduction of the work in the electronic format for the citizens.

According to the law, free legal consulting services should be provided not only by the lawyers from the state guaranteed legal aid system, but also by government authorities, local governments, non-government organizations and legal clinics. We closely cooperate with the Coordination center for SGLA development, which includes over 80 non-government organizations. At present, SGLA CC is pursuing a uniform policy in this field.


-        Most importantly, I will not be mistaken to say that the UNDP and MFA of Finland project „Towards a sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic“ have made a great contribution to the establishment of FLA system.

For reference

32 free legal aid centers operate in Kyrgyzstan. Their addresses and contact numbers can be found on the website ukuk-jardam.gov.kg.

If you need free legal aid, you can contact the coordinators from the State guaranteed legal aid coordination center. You will receive free legal consultation and detailed information on hiring a lawyer at the expense of the state.


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