December 31, 2014

Volume Two of Legal Profession Reform Index for Kyrgyzstan Released

December 2014

On December 11, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) released the second volume of its Legal Profession Reform Index (LPRI) for the Kyrgyz Republic at a roundtable held in Bishkek. More than 50 Kyrgyzstani legal professionals attended the event.

Findings of the second volume of the LPRI for Kyrgyzstan reveal a legal profession in a state of radical reform, including the passage of the Law on Advocacy in July and the corresponding creation of a unified, national bar association.

The LPRI assesses the development of the legal profession in emerging democracies and transitioning states based on international standards for an independent, ethical and effective legal profession. Findings of the second volume of the LPRI for the Kyrgyz Republic reveal a legal profession in a state of radical reform, including through the passage of the Law on Advocacy in July and the corresponding creation of a unified, national bar association—the Advokatura.

Panelists at the release event included Jyldyz Mambetalieva, deputy minister of justice of the Kyrgyz Republic, Gulniza Kozhomova, the newly elected chairwoman of the Board of Advocates, Gulnara Sheishekeeva, deputy chair of the Board of Advocates, defense attorneys Sergei Slesarev and Nurlan Sadykov, and representatives from ABA ROLI and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Kozhomova said that the negative and positive aspects of the state of the legal profession in Kyrgyzstan that the LPRI unveils provide motivation for efforts to improve areas of weakness.

Among the significant developments, the creation of the Advokatura, which increases the legal profession’s autonomy, is expected to improve several areas of concern the LPRI identifies, including professional ethics, access to justice and the quality of legal services. Even prior to the passage of the new law, the legal profession had developed significantly in the decade since ABA ROLI first implemented an LPRI in Kyrgyzstan. In 2008, for instance, several bar associations worked together to launch the Advocates Training Center. The center, which now operates under the auspices of the Advokatura, has trained several hundred legal professionals.

The LPRI identified a decline in the independence of the legal profession as one of the challenges that Kyrgyzstan needs to address. The Ministry of Justice continues to control the issuance and revocation of advocates’ licenses. Additionally, the assessment found that advocates and lawyers face pressure, harassment and even physical violence as they discharge their duties, while lawyers who are not licensed as advocates operate without any professional standards or guarantees.

The 2014 LPRI for Kyrgyzstan was implemented as part of ABA ROLI’s USAID-funded program to support the Kyrgyzstani legal defense community. You can read the publication in full here.

To learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at rol@americanbar.org.