Kyrgyzstan - annual report 2018

Anniversary Conference of the Constitutional Chamber in Bishkek: Erkinbek Mamyrov (1st row, centre), Chair of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; Winfried Schubert, former President of the Regional Constitutional Court and the Higher Regional Court (1st row, 2nd from the left)
Anniversary Conference of the Constitutional Chamber in Bishkek: Erkinbek Mamyrov (1st row, centre), Chair of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court; Winfried Schubert, former President of the Regional Constitutional Court and the Higher Regional Court (1st row, 2nd from the left)

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

The second smallest country in Central Asia continues to face the challenge of transitioning into a state under the rule of law. Introduced 2010, the Constitution defines Kyrgyzstan as a parliamentary democracy. A constitutional amendment in 2016 strengthened the rights of parliament and government. The free and peaceful election of the State President in 2017 – by no means a self-evidence in the region contributed to political stability. Many inadequacies in the legal reality persist nevertheless. The separation of powers has not been embraced in the fullest sense, while deeply entrenched power structures, inadequate efficiency of state institutions and attempts to influence the judiciary present obstacles to the country‘s emergence as a modern state that grants constitutional guarantees.

Many bi- and multilateral stakeholders are assisting in stabilising the country, among them the EU, which in 2019 will start implementation of its Strategy for Central Asia in the legal and judicial fields, also.

Overall Concept

The IRZ began its work in Kyrgyzstan in 2010 and since then has conducted advisory measures with the Ministry of Justice, parliament, the relatively young Kyrgyz Bar and the General Prosecutor´s Office. Its activities aim to professionalise capacities, discuss best practices and to provide advice on various prioritised legal areas.

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Kyrgyzstan celebrated its 25th anniversary in the reporting year and marked the occasion by hosting an international conference. On the request of the Chair of the Chamber, the IRZ sent the former President of the Regional Constitutional Court of Saxony-Anhalt and the Higher Regional Court of Saxony-Anhalt, as a speaker. It was pleasing to note that the conference provided plenty of opportunity for discussions between Constitutional Court judges from eleven countries, as well as representatives of the Venice Commission. These talks addressed current national issues relating to the different constitutions and the role of the Constitutional Court. German constitutional law, the Federal Constitutional Court and its rulings were significant topics of discussion. A lecture on the independence of the judiciary to students at the Kyrgyzstan State Law Academy reflected this interest further more.

The IRZ fulfilled a request from the Ministry of Justice by holding an expert discussion on international contract design, especially for loans from development banks. The German representatives communicated relevant standards and empirical findings acquired in Germany and offered advice on contract design and negotiation strategies for the preservation of state interests.

In addition to the bilateral projects, the IRZ also acts as junior partner in the EU Grant “Promotion of Rule of Law in the Kyrgyz Republic“, which will continue for another four and a half years.

Foci of Activity in 2018

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Dispatch to Bishkek of an expert on constitutional law to the Anniversary Conference of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court
  • Lecture on constitutional law at the Kyrgyzstan State Law Academy in Bishkek

Civil and Commercial Law

  • Round table and workshop on international contract law with the Ministry of Justice in Bishkek

Project funded by the European Union

EU Grant project: The Rule of Law Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic – 2nd phase (ROLPRO2)

The EU has funded a large-scale project to promote the rule of law in Kyrgyzstan since 2014. The project entered its second phase in May 2018 and, now scheduled to run until 2022, was elevated to a higher programme level; the content areas were also widened. In the consortium led by GIZ and including other consortium partners, the IRZ continues to participate with two long-term experts who receive support from short-term experts in order to address specific technical issues.

The consortium partners have divided the extensive areas of responsibility into three components: modernisation of the legislative procedure (component 1), support for the judiciary/court system (component 2) and support for the Public Prosecutor‘s Office (component 3). Within this framework, the German organisations GIZ and IRZ have mainly been assigned priority areas belonging to the 1st and 2nd components, which also involve sweeping reforms of administrative law. The reform efforts of the Kyrgyz Government and the state institutions, which are supported by the project, are directed towards increasing the effectiveness of judicial administration, creating transparency and credibility within judicial and court structures as well as fighting corruption.

Outlook

The IRZ will continue to implement advisory measures that build on efforts within the EU project and in doing so will apply proven formats that prioritise the transfer of know-how and practical utility.

The second phase of the EU project will widen the programme objectives and will now, as a separate priority field, seek to strengthen the Public Prosecutor‘s Office, in addition to promoting the rule of law within the judiciary and court system and providing support within the area of legislative procedure. Three pilot projects for the introduction of an electronic court file administration system deserve special mention in the wider area of e-justice. There are plans to offer programme support during the 2nd phase of the project, which will involve successive implementation of the system at all courts. In addition, the project team has commenced preparations for digitisation of the legislative procedure.

Kyrgyzstan - annual report 2017

Participants of the presentation of the Handbook for Presiding Judges of Courts of First Instance on Practical Issues of Court Administration as part of the EU Project in Bishkek: Ajnasch Tokbaeva, President of the Supreme Court (first row centre) with Presiding Judges and long term as well as short term experts of the EU Grant Project
Participants of the presentation of the Handbook for Presiding Judges of Courts of First Instance on Practical Issues of Court Administration as part of the EU Project in Bishkek: Ajnasch Tokbaeva, President of the Supreme Court (first row centre) with Presiding Judges and long term as well as short term experts of the EU Grant Project

Legal Policy Situation

The presidential election in October was the most important domestic political event in Kyrgyzstan in the year under review. Despite some criticism from international election observers, the electoral process was competitive in character including, contrary to previous concerns, a peaceful transfer of power living up to democratic standards. The social democrat and former head of government Sooronbay Jeenbekov won the presidential election.

As a parliamentary republic, Kyrgyzstan continues to stand out in contrast to its neighbouring countries of autocratic character in Central Asia. The political situation, however, is by no means stable. Many members of the government resigned in the year under review. The economic crisis persists, and the country is still a long way away from an ethnically and religiously balanced society featuring reliable democratic mechanisms. Although the transition to a modern democratic state can be perceived on many levels, it will still take a long time.

Despite the reform efforts, the judicial system continues to suffer from serious shortcomings and is not held in high esteem by the population. Professionalism in the exercise of legal professions needs to be increased; the modern infrastructure of courts and authorities needs to be expanded; consolidating procedures of the rule of law and reducing corruption are stated aims. The IRZ provides international consultation both bilaterally and within the framework of implementing the large-scale EU grant project “Promotion of Rule of Law in the Kyrgyz Republic”, in which the IRZ is involved as a junior partner.

Overall Concept

In recent years, the IRZ’s bilateral activities have focused on supporting Kyrgyz lawyers, which have undergone a process of change and self-management since the “Law on the Legal Profession” came into effect three years ago.

A well-established rule of law provides for strong, independent lawyers. They play a crucial role in ensuring access to justice. Advising and representing clients does not only require sound legal expertise but also the sensitive and appreciative handling of people and their concerns, of colleagues, of courts and of institutions involved in litigation. The rapid digital development is increasingly affecting the legal advice market and is also posing new challenges for Kyrgyz lawyers.

Thus, a need arose for advice on the fundamentals of press and public relations work for Kyrgyz lawyers due to the frequent unprofessional handling of Kyrgyz media by the lawyers, both due to uncooperative and ethically questionable statements in social networks, and due to circulating or publishing confidential client information via social networks or the media. At a seminar in Bishkek, German experts shared their expertise on handling modern media professionally by examining numerous practical examples and discussing them with the participants in addition to lectures.

For the first time, a delegation of the Bar of the Kyrgyz Republic had the opportunity to participate in the 3rd International Lawyers Forum on the subject of “Independence of self-regulation – A Lawyer’s issue” as part of a study trip on practical questions of the legal profession in Berlin. This has made an important contribution to strengthening international contacts among Kyrgyz lawyers and, in particular, to exchanging expertise with colleagues from various countries.

A first joint event with the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek facilitated an exchange between staff of the Kyrgyz Parliament and German experts on the course of legislative procedure, including evaluation and regulatory impact assessment. Under active involvement of the participants, the latter was carried out and analysed based on parts of a Kyrgyz law that had previously been translated into German. During the evaluation, detrimental aspects in the implementation of the regulations were illustrated. It was thus possible to create a trusting atmosphere that enabled Kyrgyz listeners to address matters that were important to them and to seek a lively exchange among colleagues.

Foci of Activity 2017

Administration of Justice

  • Study trip by a delegation of the Kyrgyz Bar on practical questions of the legal profession and participation in “Independence of self-regulation – A Lawyers issue”, the 3 rd International Lawyers Forum of the German Federal Bar in Berlin
  • Workshop for the Bar of the Kyrgyz Republic on the topic of communication and information policy, press and public relations work and the public image of the Bar including internet and social media usage in Bishkek

Public Law

  • Workshop on legislative procedure and regulatory impact assessment with the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic in Bishkek

Project financed by the European Union

EU Grant Project: Promotion of Rule of Law in the Kyrgyz Republic

The project with a budget volume of EUR 9.5 million has been implemented by a consortium led by the GIZ since 2014. The IRZ participates as a junior partner with two long-term experts who work in the fields of court organisation, e-justice and legislation. The team of long-term experts is supported by short-term experts from Germany and other European countries in this context.

The aim of the project is to reinforce the rule of law in the justice and the court system. The reform efforts of the Kyrgyz Government and the state institutions, which are supported by the project, are directed towards increasing the effectiveness of judicial administration, creating transparency and credibility within judicial and court structures as well as fighting corruption. The main areas of focus of the IRZ component comprise the modernisation of the operation of the courts, including the introduction of a system of electronic files and court information and court management (e-justice), as well as legislative reforms.

In the last year of the project, activities focused mainly on the implementation of previously developed improvement measures and training courses for legal practitioners, also including a practical orientation. In the year under review, another study trip was organised for ten Kyrgyz legislative experts to Berlin and Potsdam. In total, the IRZ component has provided further training for more than 300 members of the civil service, lawyers and university lecturers in the field of legislative technique during the project’s term thus far.

In the field of judicial administration, extensive expertise was provided for a working group developing an evaluation system for judges. In the summer of the year under review, a draft of the new system, including the legal acts required for its implementation, could be presented as a result. It is currently being reviewed. Furthermore, the project contributed greatly to developing and publishing a handbook for presidents of courts dealing with practical questions of judicial administration, which will also serve as a basis for training measures in the future. On the subject of e-justice, the introduction of an electronic court file management system at three pilot courts deserves a mention. The project team has also successfully advised the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic on drafting a handbook on the legal formality of sub-legislative norms and has begun preparations for the digitisation of the legislative process.

After project completion in April 2018, a second four-and-a-half-year phase with IRZ participation is planned. Here, the above-mentioned and additional focus areas will be professionally enlarged and expanded upon.

Outlook

The IRZ intends to continue the cooperation with established project partners, to strengthen the awareness of fundamentals of the rule of law in legislative procedure and the application of the law. In order to achieve long-term success in providing advice, there will be a continued focus on practice-oriented training of the respective legal practitioners.

Following the EU project “Promotion of Rule of Law in the Kyrgyz Republic” the focus will continue to be on supporting legal reforms and promoting the rule of law throughout the Kyrgyz judiciary. Within the framework of individual activities, the aim is to strengthen the competences of the central judicial institutions by providing those in charge with practical knowledge, concrete instruments and sound expertise in order to make the legislative process more efficient and to improve the functioning of judicial structures in the long run.

Kyrgyzstan - annual report 2016

Workshop in Bishkek in March 2016 to strengthen capacities and optimise training methods at the Further Training Centre for Lawyers

Workshop in Bishkek in March 2016 to strengthen capacities and optimise training methods at the Further Training Centre for Lawyers

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Poin

Kyrgyzstan is a relatively young parliamentary republic which continues to face serious challenges characterised by political, regional, ethnic and economic tensions. The state has a constitution, a parliament, a president and a coalition government. In spite of the difficulties which exist, these institutions to a large extent fulfil their functions. The Kyrgyz Republic received special attention from the German Government in the reporting year through visits by the Federal Chancellor and the Federal Foreign Minister. However, the parliamentary democracy cannot yet be considered stable. Internal power struggles concerning political influence continue.

Amendments to the Constitution, which was last re-enacted in 2010 following a referendum, became a subject for public debate in July of the reporting year. These amendments relate to the powers of the Prime Minister and to provisions of the Constitution with regard to the judicial system and constitutional jurisdiction. After months of tension concerning the constitutional reform project, the government party SDPK decided to dissolve the governing coalition. At the start of November, Parliament confirmed a newly formed government.

The constitutional reform process has in the meantime continued further through the passing of an Act on the Holding of a Referendum on Constitutional Amendments for December 2016. The intended reforms amongst other things affect the establishment of a disciplinary committee for judges and the extension of the competences granted to the public prosecution service, and contain numerous references to provisions of simple statutes or constitutional law provisions still to be passed for certain areas (e.g. restrictions for entry to the profession of judge). It remains to be seen how the new regulations will take effect and are compatible with the principles of the rule of law

Overall Concep

In the reporting year, cooperation mainly concentrated on the reform of the Kyrgyz lawyer system. Cooperation with the new Bar, which was newly formed in 2014, continues constructively in a spirit of trust.

The role of the lawyer as an independent organ for the administration of justice for the judiciary and society, the enhancement of the independence of the Kyrgyz lawyers and improvements in professionalism remain current topics in need of international support. Two events took place on these issues in Kyrgyzstan: A seminar on strengthening capacities and optimising training methods in the sphere of further training for lawyers, and a seminar on professionalism in public relations work and strengthening the Bar’s autonomous self-administration.

The Bar of the Kyrgyz Republic endeavours to regulate and standardise the entire field of further training for lawyers. The issue of further training for lawyers appears particularly important because basic training and the regulation of entry to the lawyers profession have hitherto been subject to relatively low requirements. The aim of further training for lawyers is the maintenance and improvement of quality. During a “train the trainer” course, experts from the German Bar Academy and the German Bar Institute focused attention on a wider range of methods and successfully advocated flexible further training opportunities.

A further event organised locally on the issue of public relations work and autonomous self-administration by the IRZ together with the German Federal Bar dealt with the following subjects in detail: Position and status of lawyers, lawyers’ monopoly and forms of lawyers’ work, work for the Bar including financial organisation, digitalisation and the handling of complaints, lawyers’ ethics, tax privileges of lawyers’ work, public relations work and the specialisation of lawyers.

Supporting the establishment of autonomous self-administration and passing on German expertise to the Bar and the further training centre continues to be of major importance.

Foci of Activity 2016

Administration of Justice

  • Seminar in Bishkek to strengthen capacities and optimise training methods in the field of further training for lawyers
  • Seminar at Issyk-Kul on increasing the professionalism of public relations work and strengthening the self-administration of the Bar

Criminal Law and Penitentiary Law

  • Two workshops in Bishkek on juvenile criminal law and criminal procedure law for the General Prosecutor’s Office in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the training centre at the General Prosecutor’s Office

EU Project

Outlook

The IRZ intends to continue the cooperation with the Bar Council and the training centre in 2017. The IRZ likewise intends to continue its cooperation with the Ministry of Justice under new leadership. Consultation support will be provided in the already well-established form of events held locally and in Germany. Specialist discussions will continue to focus on strengthening the Kyrgyz Bar with the use of new statutory regulations and further practical steps in the development of the chamber system, as well as the improvement of the quality of basic and further training for Kyrgyz lawyers.

Download the entire IRZ annual report in PDF format here: annual report 2016.