Vulnerable groups benefit from accessible legal aid support
Today, on 12 June 2020 Louise Chamberlain, UNDP Resident Representative met with Marat Dzhamankulov, Minister of Justice during the visit of Bishkek Free Legal Aid Center. She also handed over two minibuses to the MOJ to support the Bus of Solidarity initiative.
Through the Bus of Solidarity, lawyers, social workers, and other professionals take regular van trips to rural areas of the country, offering free legal advice on a range of matters. They go where other lawyers do not, leaving the relative affluence of urban centers such as Bishkek, the capital, to travel to the mountains which house two-thirds of Kyrgyzstan’s population. While they help men and women alike on a spectrum of legal issues, they are especially vital in empowering and protecting women. Moreover, the bus presents a uniquely adaptable, flexible approach to addressing the intersections of rural poverty, gender equality, and law.
During the event, Marat Dzhamankulov noted the high results of the cooperation between the UNDP and the Ministry. He highlighted that with the expert support of the UNDP, a law on free legal aid was developed, and citizens living in remote areas not only learned about the law, but also received a legal support.
Louise Chamberlain addressed the participants in the ceremony, noting that the FLA Centers and the Solidarity Bus allowed thousands of women to access civil documents, such as birth certificates, and exercise their rights in areas such as land law, family law, divorce and child support, inheritance, child custody and freedom from violence:
“The Free Legal Aid Centers and the Bus of Solidarity are clearly a success story for the Kyrgyz Republic. Hopefully, from today, the services they provide in raising legal awareness, strengthening linkages between the government and the people and addressing urban-rural inequities in justice and development, will be further scaled up. We hope that the services they provide in the field of raising legal awareness and strengthening ties between the government and the people will continue to expand and continue,” said the head of UNDP.
To remark, the UNDP has been cooperating with the Ministry of Justice for more than 20 years and results of partnership are impressive: a law on free legal aid was adopted, thousands of people living in remote and rural learnt about the law and received legal support, 27 Free Legal Aid Centers were established in cities and villages of Kyrgyzstan. UNDP in Kyrgyzstan supported the opening of 13 FLA Centers.
During the meeting the Minister and the UNDP Resident Representative discussed further strategic cooperation and then Ms. Louise Chamberlain handed over the keys of two minibuses to Mr. M. Dzhamankulov. This was organized to expand the legal aid in the country with the financial support of the Government Finland and the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund.
About free legal aid and Bus of Solidarity
The project “Towards Sustainable Access to Justice for Empowerment of the Kyrgyz Republic” implemented by the UNDP and supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland assists the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic in providing free legal aid and legal information to remote villages of the country through the “Bus of Solidarity”. The main objective of the “Bus of Solidarity” is to create a sustainable system of providing free legal assistance and legal advice to the population of the Kyrgyz Republic at the grassroots level.
UNDP project on “Inclusive Governance and Justice System for Preventing Violent Extremism” is funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and supports to strengthen national and local capacities to prevent violent extremism, including through increased access to justice among communities.
The Bus of solidarity covers the following legal topics:
benefits and services for socially vulnerable categories of citizens, including poor families, children and disabled people;
support for children;
appeals to courts and law enforcement agencies;
lending and loan repayment;
inheritance and labor disputes;
social insurance and pension.
The “Bus of Solidarity” has been working since 2016 and is being implemented as an integral part of the “Concept on raising legal culture of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2016–2020,” which was approved by the Resolution of the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic of March 14, 2016.
Since the launch of the initiative, it has visited Chui, Issyk-Kul, Osh, Jalal-Abad, Batken regions and has provided legal advice to thousands of people.
About Free Legal Aid (FLA) Centers
FLA Centers of the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic were created to provide legal advice to citizens free of charge. Citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic, foreign citizens, stateless persons, and refugees can receive legal assistance at the FLA Centers.
Free legal aid is provided including advice on legal issues, as well as assisting in the preparation of statements of claim to the judiciary, appeals and complaints to state and municipal authorities.
Currently, 27 legal aid centers operate throughout the country; in Bishkek, Osh, Tokmok, Kant, Kara-Balta, Karakol, Cholpon-Ata, Balykchy, Kara-Suu, Nookat, Jalal-Abad, Kerben, Karakul, Batken, Isfana, Kadamzhay, Talas and Naryn, as well as in the villages of Belovodskoye, Sokuluk, Kara-Kulzha, Gulcho, Aravan, Daroot-Korgon, Bazar-Korgon and Kochkor.
Chyntemir Kalbaev, Communications Assistant of UNDP in Kyrgyzstan