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In August 2014, 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 Education Reform Program to help the standards of legal education in Tajikistan. ABA ROLI coordinates with the Ministry of Education, as well as the administrations and professors at Tajik National University (TNU) and Russian-Tajik Slavonic University (RTSU) to implement this three-pronged program.
First, ABA ROLI strives to develop sustainable law school practices and cross-cultural collaboration by encouraging networking among university professors, facilitating training for professors on comparative legal provisions and bringing Tajikistani law professors on an exchange program to the United States.
Second, we foster improved course content and teaching methodologies by working with professors to develop curricula for courses that incorporate practical courtroom skills. Additionally, we will support professors in creating sustainable law programs by incentivizing them with teaching innovation grants and developing additional resources, including textbooks and teaching aids, to supplement current course offerings. Further, we will conduct multi-day teaching-methodology trainings that emphasize interactive learning.
And finally, ABA ROLI will provide technical and financial support to the legal aid clinics at TNU and RTSU to support the expansion of clinical legal education and skills-development opportunities for law students. We will facilitate the establishment of school-wide mock-trial and client-counseling competitions at both universities. In addition, we will implement a mentorship program for female law students to promote greater participation of women in the legal profession.
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.