A major priority for the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI’s) programs in the Kyrgyz Republic has been making sure that the roughly six million inhabitants of the country have access to highly-trained and competent defense attorneys. However, advocates in remote areas of Kyrgyzstan often experience great difficulty accessing training and professional development opportunities. Considering these remote areas already have a substantially lower per capita ratio of “advocates-to-population” in comparison to the more developed areas in and around the country’s three major cities of Bishkek, Osh and Jalal-Abad, the inability to easily access these vital resources serves only to complicate the problem of providing quality advocate services that these often isolated areas desperately need. In an effort to enhance the advocates’ abilities to meet the needs of the people in these outlying areas, ABA ROLI has supported the creation of resource centers within each of the nine regional advocaturas to serve the professional needs of the advocate community throughout Kyrgyzstan.
ABA ROLI equipped each resource center with the necessary technology tools – computers, printers, scanners and copy machines – to allow full access to the resources offered by the Advocate Training Center.
With the financial assistance of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau For International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, ABA ROLI equipped each resource center with the necessary technology tools – computers, printers, scanners and copy machines – to allow full access to the resources offered by the Advocate Training Center (the professional training center operated by the country’s National Advocatura) as well as those offered by similar organizations worldwide. By using this equipment, advocates in all corners of the country now have access to comparative legislation, texts and any legal materials they might require. During the few months the centers have been equipped, 110 advocates have visited seven regional centers outside of Bishkek.
For Mamatov Jyrgalbek, an attorney in Jalal Abad, modern practice required the use of computers in his work, but he was unable to easily access the internet before these resources became available. “I’ve never used a computer or internet in my work before. Today, however we need to respond to challenges as quickly as possible. So we started using a computer and the internet, but it is quite difficult to find a good connection in our region,” Jyrgalbek said. Because of the regional resource center for the Jalal Abad Advocatura, Jyrgalbek now has, as he put it, “much more convenient access to the internet in the Advocatura’s office.”
Additionally, the coordinators of each resource center received training on how to use the resources now available to serve the professional development needs of the advocates in their respective regions. Now, through the use of information and communication technology tools – including email and social media outreach – each resource center can promote professional networking and disseminate to its members the latest information on important legislative matters and court decisions, as well as promoting upcoming training opportunities.
So far, the country’s advocates have been extremely welcoming of the resource centers and are pleased to have these much-needed resources available to them. With these resource centers in place, Kyrgyzstan’s defense advocate community can now serve the advocacy needs of people living in remote areas of the country.
To learn more about our work in Kyrgyzstan, please contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at [email protected].