Defense Attorneys Advocating Rights Protection (DAARP)
ABA ROLI implemented the Defense Attorneys Advocating Rights Protection in Kazakhstan (DAARP) program from June 1, 2020 to August 6, 2021 to respond to the challenges faced by the community of defense advocates in Kazakhstan related to the Law on Advocacy and Legal Aid, which was adopted in 2018 and implemented in February 2019. The law aimed to improve: regulation of the activities of defense advocates and legal advisors, continuing legal education (CLE) mandates, disciplinary committees, and criteria for legal aid provision. Provisions of the new legislation, however, went beyond what is needed for a well-regulated advocates’ community. They consolidated the regulation of the defense advocate community under the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and made the National Bar Association subject to MoJ oversight, reducing the ability of defense lawyers to maintain independence in the courtroom. The activities under the DAARP program supported institutional strengthening to ensure the long- term reclamation of independence by the National Bar Association and strengthened the ability of attorneys to provide high-quality legal defense. ABA ROLI worked with the National Bar Association of Kazakhstan, the Almaty City Bar, and several other regional bar associations. This collaboration sought to develop their strategic priorities, strengthen CLE systems and ensure compliance with the adopted standards for CLE and regulations for advocates’ practice, and provided opportunities for national bar associations of Central Asian Republics to exchange experience on CLE regulations and professional development for advocates.
Kazakhstan Judicial Program
ABA ROLI implemented its USAID-funded Kazakhstan Judicial Program from April 2012 through September 2020. Under this 8-year program, ABA ROLI cooperated with the Supreme Court, and it’s subsidiary Union of Judges, and Academy of Justice. Our efforts sought to strengthen judges’ knowledge and application of international best practices in judicial decision writing techniques and substantive law, support the implementation of new legislation, and develop alternative dispute resolution methods in order to advance the goal of the modernization of judicial system and increased the public trust in the judicial system of Kazakhstan. This program has led to higher professional standards for judges at all levels of the Kazakhstan court system, strengthened legal reform processes, and increased the public trust and awareness of the judiciary. ABA ROLI secured unique and meaningful cooperation and coordination with the judiciary and has ensured a groundwork for Kazakhstan to continue to develop their own capacity for an effective court system.
Legal Support to the Independent Media
With initial support from the U.S. Department of State's Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (DRL), the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) opened the media support center (MSC) in Almaty to bolster free expression and journalistic rights in Kazakhstan. The center's activities are currently jointly supported by the British Embassy in Astana and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Regional Legal Advocacy Program
From December 2008 through March 2012, the regional legal advocacy program provided a forum to connect and network advocates and legal leaders across Central Asia and encouraged them to discuss common problems, especially in criminal cases, and to come together to develop regional solutions. The program provided support for advocates on emerging legal issues, such as the recent institution of jury trials in Kazakhstan, the move to do the same in Kyrgyzstan and the use of strategic litigation across the region. It further trained advocates on advocacy skills in the courtroom and leadership skills in the community, providing them with guidance and resources on special issues and cases. The Central Asian League of Lawyers, a regional association of lawyers established as an outgrowth of the 2010 regional exchange, is a formally registered non-governmental organization in Kyrgyzstan and continues to promote cooperation within the region’s legal community.
Regional Court Monitoring
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative’s (ABA ROLI’s) 2010–2011 court monitoring activities in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan identified trends in courtroom criminal proceedings specific to each country as well as common successes and challenges. A comprehensive analysis of findings helped those countries’ legal communities’ better understand further reform needs, including in such areas as equality of prosecution and defense, openness of hearings, protection of defendant rights, quality of legal assistance and judicial independence. The program helped create and strengthen court monitoring mechanisms in these three countries.
Legal Education Reform and Civic Education
From 2002 to 2007, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI)—through its U.S. Agency for International Development-supported public legal education program—worked to bolster the public’s legal literacy and corresponding ability to assert its rights.