Rule of Law Programs in Tajikistan

Legal Profession Reform

In August 2012, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI), with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, launched a legal reform program in Tajikistan. The initiative includes efforts to expand access to justice and to improve human rights protection by establishing a sustainable system of high-quality criminal defense legal aid.

Criminal legal representation in Tajikistan is extremely poor, particularly for indigent defendants. Unlike the comparatively well-funded and government-supported prosecutor’s office and judiciary, the defense bar remains without a dedicated training center. The problem stems from a lack of a coherent system for providing public defense, and disorganization and fragmentation within the defense-advocate community. ABA ROLI is assisting Tajikistan’s defense advocates as they create a public defense center to coordinate initiatives that support criminal-defense advocates and a network to promote resource- and experience-sharing among defense providers.

While the center will be based in the capital, Dushanbe, it will serve all four regions of Tajikistan, addressing advocates’ desire for a unified voice and the country’s need for a public defense system to coordinate legal assistance. Additionally, ABA ROLI supports training programs for new and experienced advocates alike. The trainings cover several topics, including trial advocacy, criminal procedure, and ethics and disciplinary standards. We also support criminal defense advocates and other stakeholders in their outreach and advocacy efforts for improved criminal laws, procedures and practices.

Through the program, we work closely with local partners, including many of Tajikistan’s regional advocate associations and relevant government and civil society actors. ABA ROLI draws upon its more than 15 years of experience providing legal technical assistance in Tajikistan to help build a stronger legal system that benefits all Tajikistani citizens.