On March 3, more than 200 defense advocates from across Kyrgyzstan gathered at the State Museum of History in Bishkek for the Extraordinary Congress of Advocates.
Elected delegates from all of the country’s nine regional advocaturas (defense attorneys’ associations) attended the meeting to vote on the national advocatura’s outstanding institutional and organizational matters, including the membership dues structure and the provision of continuing legal education for the defense advocate community.
The ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) and the European Union—through its project to promote the rule of law in the Kyrgyz Republic—helped to fund the congress. Elected delegates from all of the country’s nine regional advocaturas (defense attorneys’ associations) attended the meeting to vote on the national advocatura’s outstanding institutional and organizational matters, including the membership dues structure and the provision of continuing legal education (CLE) for the defense advocate community. Additionally, representatives from Kyrgyzstan’s Ministry of Justice, the U.S. Agency for International Development, GIZ (the German agency for international cooperation), the United Nations Development Program and the Soros Foundation took part in the event. The national advocatura was established during its first congress in November 2014.
After the delegates voted to approve the event’s agenda, Gulniza Kozhomova, the chairwoman of the Board of Advocates—which organized the congress—gave her opening remarks, highlighting some of the advocatura’s achievements. She said that the advocatura has established CLE standards, prepared recommendations for new legislation pertaining to the advocate community and is actively working to forge relationships with bar associations in other countries. She also addressed participants’ questions.
Later, Olga Churakova, director of the Advocates Training Center, reported on the center’s status and activities. The center, which is the only training institute for practicing advocates, was launched in 2008 as an independent body to create CLE opportunities for the country’s defense attorneys. Discussions on the report and the training center’s charter followed, before participants voted to approve the charter and to incorporate the Advocate Training Center under the umbrella of the national advocatura, further solidifying its position as the authorized CLE provider for defense advocates.
Throughout the day, participating delegates took the stage to address the Board of Advocates and attendees, and to share their thoughts and concerns. Comparing this congress to the previous one, Aijan Kadyrova, an advocate from the Bishkek regional advocatura, said that this year, her fellow advocates were more engaged and more interested in the daily activities of the advocatura. “Previously, the advocates were passive and indifferent … now, they are actively involved in the reforms of this field,” said Kadyrova. “It’s a good sign, and I believe if we keep this pace, we will have a well-developed, very effective and strong advocatura in the near future.”
The meeting concluded by establishing the advocatura’s fee structure and recommending amendments to the association’s charter. The next congress of advocates is scheduled to take place in 2017.
ABA ROLI, with funding from the USAID, has been implementing a program to support the Kyrgyzstani legal defense community since 2012.
To learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].