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December 08, 2012

Trainings Give Belarusian Law Students, Advocates a Head Start in New Criminal-Procedure Concepts

December 2012

In November, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) held two trail-advocacy trainings for Belarusian law students and advocates. The trainings were held in Minsk, Belarus, and focused on in-court trial skills, such as opening and closing arguments, direct- and cross-examination, and case analysis.

Kathy Ladun, ABA ROLI country director in Belarus, and Iryna Sheiko-Ivankiv, ABA ROLI staff attorney, led the trainings, each of which concluded with a mock trial, allowing participants to practice their new skills. Funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, the trainings built on previously conducted trainings and helped strengthen the capacity of Belarusian legal professionals.

Twenty senior law students attended the first training, which was held in partnership with the Belarusian State University (BSU), while 20 new and experienced advocates attended the second. “I’ll remember these three training days as the best days of my academic time,” said Kseniia, a 4th year student who took part in the training. “I’ve learnt about how to structure speech in trial and I’m no longer afraid to speak up.”

Ladun’s lecture focused on the U.S. justice system. Discussions were enriched with trainees’ questions about American law as well as their ideas for reforms in the Belarusian legal system. Practicing advocates also shared their experiences in Belarusian courtrooms. The concepts of jury trial, double jeopardy and burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt within the U.S. criminal justice system were particular areas of interest to the trainees. The advocates pointed out that they were inspired to use the best practices of American defense attorneys in their everyday practice. Viktoriia is one of the advocates who participated in the trainings. She said that she was interested to learn the technique of witness examination—especially cross-examination—a concept which is yet to be introduced into the Belarusian justice system. She said that she was eager to know how it works both in the U.S. and in the Ukrainian justice systems, where it was introduced recently.

To learn more about our work in Belarus, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].