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With funding from the U.S. Department of State, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) worked to strengthen Turkmenistan’s legal and business communities’ knowledge on international commerce issues, such as questions of enforcement and criminal liability. ABA ROLI conducted a well-received series of training workshops targeting business professionals, economists and law professionals privately practicing international trade law. ABA ROLI also conducted a series of six workshops that focused on crimes of corruption as outlined by the existing criminal procedural code. The workshop series emphasized an understanding of international trade law norms as well as the Criminal Code on Crimes of Corruption, thus promoting greater compliance with local and international anti-corruption standards.
Between 2009 and 2012, with funding from the U.S. Department of State, the ABA Rule of Law Initiative (ABA ROLI) implemented a program to enhance the capacity of Turkmenistan’s non-governmental organization (NGO) community by promoting legal awareness, networking and public outreach. Our program trained on rights and administrative requirements under the current legislative framework, including registration, taxation and labor. ABA ROLI also provided the NGO community with the space and tools to network and administer advocacy campaigns. Additionally, ABA ROLI helped increase community legal awareness and engagement with NGOs. We helped establish three People’s Law Centers (PLCs), which served more than 12,000 people; conducted 19 visits to rural regions of Turkmenistan through our mobile PLC program, educating more than 1,300 residents about their legal rights; and empowered civil society actors to self-organize.
The Turkmenistan Community Empowerment Program (TCEP) is a tridimensional approach to community development. It involves the promotion of community-wide economic activity, civil society participation and increasing access to legal support. Legal access is critical to the overall success of the TCEP program. It is also central to improving the daily realities of life in Turkmenistan.
The program combines stationary and roving clinics that operate throughout the country to help women better exercise their rights regarding inheritance, domestic violence and family law. The clinics also help workers defend their rights to decent wages and fit working conditions. They contribute to reinforcing the rule of law in Turkmenistan by encouraging and empowering individuals to take ownership of their personal, political and economic circumstances by engaging their legal system.
ABA ROLI programming has had a significant impact. Since the beginning of the program in 2006, ABA ROLI has established five legal clinics in the rural regions of Mary, Dashoguz, Balkan, Lebap and Ahal. ABA ROLI conducted more than 8,000 legal consultations with Turkmen citizens; referred nearly 1,000 clients to the appropriate state agencies, other lawyers or community organizations; trained more than 100 lawyers in advocacy skills and conducted 15 training seminars through the TCEP program during the 2007–2008 program year alone.
This recently completed program achieved notable successes during the 2007–2008 program year by providing in-person and telephone consultations through the legal clinics. More than 2,000 in-person consultations and nearly 1,000 telephone consultations were given.
Like many other ABA ROLI programs, the legal clinics in Turkmenistan ensure access to legal services throughout the country and serve as legal resource centers. The “Keeping the Door Open” program also emphasizes gender-related elements of existing Turkmen laws and raises awareness about international norms and treaties, such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). This program has created and is maintaining a legal database, which includes all Turkmen legislations and presidential decrees; published a Manual for Social Advocates, which serves as a tool for community advocacy; conducted three multi-day trainings; and equipped over 300 new social advocates to better serve underrepresented segments of the Turkmen population through legal consultations.
With support from the US Department of State's Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights and Labor (USDOS/DRL), the ABA is undertaking a program to train non-lawyer social advocates on the legal mechanisms available to assist victims of violence. The program is based on a manual first developed in the Russian Federation in 2004 and adapted to the Turkmen context in 2006, and focuses on building the capacity of professionals from diverse backgrounds to provide better services to victims of violence.