In April 2006, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative sent a U.S.-based attorney as an Anti-Corruption Advisor to Bishkek for seven months to assess opportunities for Kyrgyz institutional and legislative reforms and to increase regional capacity to fight corruption. The Advisor prepared an assessment of existing anti-corruption legislation in Kyrgyzstan that discussed how well those laws complied with the United National Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC). Kyrgyzstan ratified the UNCAC in September 2005. In October 2006, this analysis was both presented to the Parliament and discussed during a roundtable attended by members of government, civil society, international organizations and the media. In February 2007, the analysis had formed the basis of a draft anti-corruption law in Parliament that seeks to bring the legislative framework into compliance with the UNCAC.
The Advisor also built upon needs expressed by participants at a May 2006 regional judicial anti-money laundering training held in Almaty, Kazakhstan, by organizing a nationally televised public forum on Kyrgyzstan's new anti-money laundering law. The program aired in both Russian and Kyrgyz during prime time, and was complemented by the broadcast of an anti-corruption public service announcement developed by the Advisor and the Criminal Law Reform program
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) combated trafficking in persons (TIP) in Kyrgyzstan by raising awareness among law enforcement, defense attorneys and the judiciary to strengthen prevention, prosecution and victim protection. With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, ABA ROLI developed a series of TIP trainings for law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and defense attorneys. From 2009–2010, ABA ROLI provided 20 trainings to about 300 justice sector and law enforcement personnel. ABA ROLI also created standardized TIP investigation and prosecution guidelines, which will be developed into textbooks for inclusion into government academies’ curricula.
With funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, ABA ROLI supported institutions and advocacy for legislation that enables the legal community to better defend citizens’ rights.
ABA ROLI also promoted professional development among Kyrgyzstani lawyers. Our criminal law reform program created a working group that drafted a law to establish a national bar association. ABA ROLI also helped establish an Advocates Training Center (ATC), making regular continuing legal education a possibility for the first time in Kyrgyzstan. Since 2008, the center has trained an average of 25 participants each month. ABA ROLI helps the center train advocates on issues including arrest warrants, pre-trial detention procedures and jury trials. ABA ROLI also continues to support the defense advocate community through its USAID-supported programming.
ABA ROLI implemented an emergency election rights program with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs. Through this program, ABA ROLI worked to boost the legal community’s ability to manage election complaints and to increase voters’ awareness of their rights, especially targeting youth and minorities in the south.
Between 2001 and 2010, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) implemented a U.S. Agency for International Development-funded civic education program in Kyrgyzstan. The program focused on improving legal awareness among Kyrgyz youth and on increasing legal knowledge and skills among marginalized religious communities to help them engage effectively with the justice system and government institutions.
ABA ROLI conducted street law trainings in both public secular schools and religious educational institutions, introducing students to basic secular legal concepts with an emphasis on their rights. The program focused on increasing the students’ understanding of secular law and individual rights and on instilling greater knowledge among marginalized communities of their rights and of the legitimate mechanisms for interacting with government representatives and institutions. To ensure sustainability of the programs, ABA ROLI also helped build the capacity of five local street law centers to operate independently and expand their programs.
Additionally, with a grant from the U.S. Embassy in Bishkek, ABA ROLI reinvigorated its street law program to rapidly respond to post-conflict tensions among secondary school students in Kyrgyzstan and coordinated legal services for those affected by the violence in the south of the country. ABA ROLI’s Post-Conflict Civic Education and Legal Access program brought ethnic Kyrgyz and Uzbek and other minority students together to engage in activities on legal rights, democratic principles and peaceful conflict resolution. ABA ROLI introduced a new post-conflict civic education course into street law centers, secular schools and madrassas. ABA ROLI also encouraged cross-ethnic interaction through after-school activities such as debates, discussion clubs and the arts.