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Kazakhstan Past Programs

Access to Justice and Human Rights 

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. The MSC provides a range of legal support to the independent media including:

  • telephone and e-mail hotlines where journalists and independent media throughout Kazakhstan can contact the center for free advice and consultations. The hotline number is +7 (3272) 938-661 and the e-mail address is
  • legal support and resources for independent media and journalists involved in litigation or administrative proceedings, including, in some cases, representation by the center's staff attorneys.
  • training for judges through the national Judicial Training Center on national and international laws governing the media.
  • monitoring and reporting on court cases and legal developments involving the mass media, including via e-mail bulletins and a web site at To assist judges and lawyers, ABA ROLI has developed and published Courts and the Mass Media, a manual on laws and regulations governing media.
  • legal analysis and proposals for legal reform to improve domestic legislation concerning the rights of free expression and the media.

The Legal Support to the Independent Media program ended in August 2007.

Criminal Law Reform and Anti-Human Trafficking

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.

Judicial Reform

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. In Uzbekistan, where gaining access to the courtroom is particularly challenging, ABA ROLI leveraged its Public Defense Center internship program, allowing lawyer interns to observe courts. In Tajikistan, ABA ROLI engaged with the Center for Human Rights, which had been monitoring cases in the country since 2005, to train law graduates and practicing lawyers on court monitoring methodology and tools, as well as on local and international fair-trial standards. And in Kyrgyzstan, ABA ROLI directly trained local courtroom monitors to observe cases resulting from the 2010 violence in the south and to assess how they were covered in mass media. These efforts have resulted in the establishment of court monitoring working groups and programs, which will play a critical role in future criminal law reform efforts in Central Asia.

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. Component activities included:

  • Two televised mock trials, including the nation's first televised mock jury trial. This kind of programming was often the first exposure that the average residents of Kazakhstan had to the law and its role in their lives, and served as a basic introduction to a functioning legal system.
  • The implementation in sites throughout the country of a street law program in which specially-trained law students provided lessons on basic legal concepts, rights and democratic principles to secondary school students.
  • In 2007, ABA ROLI aired a series of three public service announcements (PSAs) on basic concepts of law, and recorded and aired two analytical programs on the newly implemented jury trial system and the legal framework governing the free exercise of religion in the country.
  • In its work with law students, ABA ROLI implemented programs designed to promote pro-active training, including organizing the national rounds of the Phillip C. Jessup International Moot Court Competition and numerous mock trials and advocacy skills trainings. ABA ROLI also supported numerous educational clinics.