Today, on April 24, an online round table was held on the theme “COVID-19: Challenges of  the legal community in Kyrgyzstan and possible ways of response”. Participants included representatives of the Ombudsman’s office, the Coordination Center for state-guaranteed Legal Aid under the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic, lawyers, advocates and young activists residing in the border regions of Kyrgyzstan.

The main objective of the online platform was to discuss the existing positive experience of providing legal assistance on-line and law enforcement practices in the context of COVID-19, and brainstorm solutions for the regulatory and practical levels.

In his opening speech, Kaldarov Mukash, coordinator of the UNDP project “Promoting Kyrgyzstan's Youth Cohesion and Interaction towards Uzbekistan,” noted that: “improving access to justice and legal aid during a pandemic is the main topic of today's event. Representatives of the legal community and youth will discuss the difficulties encountered by professionals of law, as well as possible alternative innovative solutions for providing legal assistance to people in need. ” .

An emergency situation has been declared on the territory of Kyrgyzstan to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection. In order to ensure the protection of the life and health of citizens, their safety and public order, as well as to prevent the spread of coronavirus infection to other territories of the Kyrgyz Republic, movement within the country was restricted, mass events were prohibited, and certain areas under emergency state have a special regime for the entry and exit of citizens. All these measures, aimed on the one hand to ensure the protection of people’s health in Kyrgyzstan, at the same time caused certain difficulties for the provision of services to the population.

The program of the event included a speech by Akzhol Sabyrovich Kalbekov, Director of the Coordination Center for state-guaranteed Legal Aid under the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic, talked about “The Legal Assistance Guaranteed by the State.”  The attorney in law Eduard Li talked on “Access to criminal justice for youth in COVID -19 circumstances and practical monitoring of criminal procedure work.”. The lawyers and representatives of young people living in the border regions of the country were also invited to speak.

An important aspect of the discussions was the question of the possibility of young people living in remote settlements and border ones to receive legal advice and qualified legal assistance, which remains relevant both in the current situation with COVID-19 and after.

A young participant from the Nooken district of the Jalal-Abad region, Kasymbek uulu Ularbek, gave information on the key challenges in accessing legal aid. According to him, remote solutions for the provision of legal assistance, including the need of increasing awareness of young people about the existing mechanisms of legal regulation, would encourage locals to resort to legal methods of regulation and possibly prevent disputes and conflicts on the ground.

As a result, participants adopted a resolution to improve the legal framework and law enforcement practice regarding access of young people in remote settlements to legal assistance. Detailed recommendations were developed for each session, including amendments and additions to the draft law “On the State-Guaranteed Legal Aid”.

The event was initiated within the framework of the UNDP projects on “Promoting Kyrgzystan’s Youth Cohesion and Interaction towards Uzbekistan” and the “Rule of Law and Access to Justice” in cooperation with the Association of Legal Clinics of Kyrgyzstan.

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