Kyrgyzstan – annual report 2020

Screenshot of the website encouraging public participation in draft legislation in Kyrgyzstan
Screenshot of the website encouraging public participation in draft legislation in Kyrgyzstan

Strategic Framework 

Legal Policy Starting Point 

In 2010, Kyrgyzstan established a parliamentary democracy in its constitution for which it received considerable recognition; however, the transformation thus initiated also presented the country with many challenges. The development of a stable political order and of economic growth has been inadequate. Parliamentary elections in October 2020 triggered demonstrations that turned into violent unrest. The White House, seat of parliament and the president, was stormed during the riots. Events spilled over, and imprisoned politicians were freed in the subsequent power vacuum. The parliamentary elections were declared void due to obvious electoral fraud.

Sadyr Japarov, an opposition politician who had been legally convicted and freed, suddenly and unexpectedly had himself appointed prime minister and also took over the office of acting president. He stepped down from both posts to run in the presidential election in early 2021, from which he emerged victorious. A referendum was held at the same time as the elections, in which the electorate decided to install a presidential government system – which had been abolished more than ten years before. Changes to the constitution and the state organisations should be anticipated as a result.

Overall Concept

The events that unfolded during the political turmoil in autumn showed that the Kyrgyz judiciary, under intense political pressure, was responsible for acts of questionable legal legitimacy. For example, high-ranking government positions were hastily filled. In light of this, the advice projects that IRZ engages in with the aim of developing the rule of law must be readjusted. This is currently limited to participation in a comprehensive EU Grant. Even though IRZ has made considerable progress at the working level on its own components within this EU project, the political upheavals have created great uncertainties among the project partners. These must be addressed constructively so that rule-of-law advice can continue to be provided.

Project funded by the European Union

EU Grant Project: “The Rule of Law Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic 2 nd phase (ROLPRO2)”

Project objectives have been expanded in the second phase of the project to promote the rule of law. The project has been running since May 2018 and now also includes strengthening the Public Prosecutor’s Office as a further priority, in addition to the consolidation of a judiciary and court system based on the rule of law and promotion of the legislative procedure. Implementation of the project is in the hands of a European consortium under the auspices of GIZ (Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH). IRZ is involved in the project with two longterm experts whose advisory services are supported by the provision of additional specialised short-term expertise.

The project components are as follows:

  • Component 1: Modernisation of the legislative process 
  • Component 2: Support for the judiciary/the court system 
  • Component 3: Support for the Public Prosecutor’s Office

IRZ and GIZ are predominantly active in the first two components.

In the area of legislation, the Internet portal for public consultation on draft legislation has gone live and was officially presented by the Minister of Justice in an online event. In the future, the Kyrgyz legislative bodies will publish all draft legislation on this website, where citizens, associations and other representatives of civil society can then post their comments. This will add transparency to the overall legislative procedure, as the legislative bodies are obliged to respond to these comments.

Progress has also been made in the digital support of the legislative procedure, in which the developed software records legislation in a predefined form and according to a specific structure. However, a planned study trip to promote cooperation with the EU Commission on a similar European project (“Legislation Editing Open Software”) had to be postponed due to the pandemic.

In the area of e-justice, the electronic court information system “AIS Suda” has been installed at some courts of second instance – although the COVID-19 pandemic has made it impossible to complete the roll-out at all courts. “AIS Suda” was continuously developed and optimised in 2020 following its nationwide roll-out at first-instance level. There are plans to develop an e-learning tool for users as well. Progress was also made in the further development of the IT interface between the Public Prosecutor’s Office and the judiciary. In the area of court administration, a draft for a new business audit model in courts (“Court Audit”) is currently under discussion by the Judicial Council.

The outcomes of this work make an important contribution to increasing effectiveness in judicial administration, as well as to creating transparency and credibility within the judiciary.

Outlook

IRZ will continue the EU project in consultation with its project partners and on the basis of the results achieved thus far. It will particularly focus on user-friendly tools and on their proper application.

Kyrgyzstan - annual report 2019

Visit of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe: Prof. Henning Radtke (centre), Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and Emil Oskonbaev (to the right), Vice-Chair of the Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Republic
Visit of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe: Prof. Henning Radtke (centre), Judge at the Federal Constitutional Court, and Emil Oskonbaev (to the right), Vice-Chair of the Constitutional Chamber of the Kyrgyz Republic

Strategic Framework

Legal Policy Starting Point

Kyrgyzstan enjoys the most highly developed structures that promote democracy and the rule of law in the Central Asian region and has a young, active civil society.

The parliamentary system has withstood several political crises in recent years. Most recently, the country‘s political stability was put again to a hard test in 2019. The power struggle between the former and incumbent presidents, which was played out in public for over a year, reached its peak when Almasbek Atambaev‘s status as ex-president was revoked and he was arrested in August 2019. These unfolding events created significant unrest and threatened the country‘s stability in the eyes of many people.

In addition to the difficult domestic political situation, the state leadership faces many other challenges: It must push ahead with democratisation and reform processes, modernise administrative structures, boost the economy and combat pervasive corruption.

By contrast, there has been considerable progress in the area of Kyrgyzstan‘s judicial reform. The Ministry of Justice, for example, has been completely detached from the judiciary and, unlike in other countries, no longer has any influence in matters of judicial administration. Instead, a large number of new judicial institutions has been created and all the tasks assigned to the judiciary were distributed among them. Following the official declaration of 2019 as the year of digitalisation and regional development by the incumbent President Sooronbai Cheenbekov, increasing digitalisation also took place in the judicial system during the reporting year. It is one of the decisive factors to improve transparency and efficiency in this area. However, at the same time, the judicial system continues to face many problems. These include, to name just a few, the weak court infrastructure, the lack of professionalism within legal professions and inefficient cooperation between the authorities, as well as the poor level of reputation among the general population.

In May 2019, the Council of the EU presented its vision for a renewed partnership with Central Asia in Bishkek and updated its strategy for relations with the region, which were first defined in 2007. Germany provided important and substantive contributions in this regard and it will continue to deliver committed support to achieve the newly defined goals for greater democracy and the rule of law. In spring 2019, Kyrgyz President Jeenbekov paid a two-day official state visit to Germany in recognition of the close partnership between the countries and of Germany‘s special role.

Overall Concept

In addition to the junior partnership in the EU-funded project “Promotion of Rule of Law in the Kyrgyz Republic“, IRZ continued its bilateral expert dialogue with the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court in 2019.

The still young constitutional court jurisdiction, which faces some criticism in the country, is fighting for its existence and is particularly dependent on international support. Responding to this need, IRZ organised a study trip to Germany for Kyrgyz constitutional judges for an intensive exchange of constitutional law issues with German colleagues at federal and state level. A highlight of the visit was the expert talk at the Federal Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe on the special characteristics and role of a constitutional court within modern democratic country based on the rule of law. During this expert talk, the 70th anniversary of the Basic Law and the related achievements and experiences in Germany were honoured. The discussion also focused on practical questions and examples of how the Federal Constitutional Court works.

Focus of Activity in 2019

Constitutional Law/Human Rights and their Enforceability

  • Study trip by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic to Stuttgart, Karlsruhe, Heidelberg on strengthening the constitution and principles of an effective legal protection system

Basic and Further Training

  • First participation of a judge in the internship programme for English-speaking civil and commercial judges in Königswinter

Project funded by the European Union

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

Scheduled to run until 2022, the project to promote the rule of law in Kyrgyzstan entered its second phase in May 2018. The project builds largely on the results of the first phase (which started in 2014) and also addresses new topics. Joining several other consortium partners under the leadership of GIZ, IRZ is participating in the project with two longterm experts, who receive support from short-term experts.

The consortium partners have divided the extensive areas of responsibility into three components:

  • Component 1: Modernisation of the legislative procedure
  • Component 2: Support for the judiciary/court system
  • Component 3: Support for the Public Prosecutor‘s Office

The German organisations GIZ and IRZ have accepted priority tasks in the first two components.

During 2019, the project reached important milestones in the areas of e-justice and court administration. Among other things, the electronic file and court information system “AIS Suda“ was rolled out nationwide at all courts of first instance; its introduction at second instance courts has also begun. In addition, the judiciary opened its own data centre for the secure operation of system-critical judiciary applications. In the area of court administration and court management, the focus has been on developing a system for the evaluation of judges, training for managers and improving the informational content of court statistics.

For the legislation component, a website for public consultation on draft legislation has been developed, and a pilot version is already online. Several advertising campaigns and training measures in this regard are planned for 2020. An additional feature is the procurement of hardware required by the Ministry of Justice in this context. Progress was also made in the digitalisation of the legislative procedure, the creation of working tools and a cooperation platform for joint legislative work.

The work results achieved in 2019 will make an important contribution to increasing the effectiveness of judicial administration, strengthening the transparency and credibility of the judiciary and combating corruption.

Outlook

In the coming year, IRZ will work with its existing partners to identify suitable measures that complement the content priorities of the EU project.

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.