On March 1, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) conducted a regional roundtable in Astana, Kazakhstan, to discuss results of court monitoring of drug-related crimes over the previous one-and-half years. Twenty-one members of the country-specific working groups from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, including representatives from the judiciary, law enforcement agencies, advocate communities and academia, attended the event.
The reports unveiled emerging challenges, such as increased production and use of synthetic narcotics in the region, as well as new—including online—methods of drug distribution used by criminal groups.
The working groups—whose members also comprise the Central Asia regional working group—were set up in late 2014 to assess how drug-related crimes are investigated and prosecuted in the three countries. During the March roundtable, representatives from each of the country-specific working groups presented draft reports highlighting the findings of their court monitoring of drug-related cases in their respective countries. They also shared their recommendations for making the investigation and prosecution of drug-related crimes more effective. Their findings unveiled emerging challenges, such as increased production and use of synthetic narcotics in the region, as well as new—including online—methods of drug distribution used by criminal groups. Roundtable participants also discussed the regional aspect of illicit drug trafficking and the challenges it poses to all three countries, emphasizing the need to strengthen regional collaboration in the prosecution of drug-related crimes.
Later on, they agreed on a draft resolution, outlining the next steps that the working groups will take to advocate for the adoption of the recommendations. Among other things, the resolution emphasized the need for continued efforts—by both government agencies and expert associations—to evaluate the issues that the country-specific reports identify and ongoing efforts to address them. Essential to this process, and included in the recommendations, is increased communication between the legal communities and government stakeholders at both national and regional levels. The recommendations also emphasize the importance of trainings for all of the region’s law enforcement bodies that investigate drug-trafficking offenses, as well as more public-awareness campaigns on the dangers of narcotics use and the increasing prevalence of synthetic drugs.
The event was conducted as part of ABA ROLI’s program to support court monitoring of drug-related criminal cases in Central Asia. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.
To learn more about our work in Central Asia, contact the ABA Rule of Law Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.