Empowering young lawyers in Kyrgyzstan through human rights training

Meerim Asanova, now a practicing human rights lawyer in Kyrgyzstan, benefitted greatly from training workshops conducted by the UN Human Rights Office in Kyrgyzstan.

“The knowledge from the trainings and the recommendation of my coaches helped me get a lawyer's license,” she says. “My legal activities relate directly to the protection of human rights. I use the skills I have acquired to expand the scope and effectiveness of this protection.”

Asanova, 28, is now an advocate for the rights of migrant workers, refugees and asylum seekers based in south Kyrgyzstan. She was a participant in the series of legal training workshops provided by the UN Human Rights Office in Kyrgyzstan. The workshops aimed to increase the professional capacity of 68 selected young counselors and litigators from multi-ethnic districts and cities in southern Kyrgyzstan.

Workshop participants advanced professionally, with 15 percent of them securing the highest passing marks on the country’s advocate exam. The exam provides the license to practice law in the country.

“Such trainings are necessary and are in demand by all counselors and litigators,” said Gulniza Kojomova, Chairman of the Bar Association. “And the result is qualified and competent protection of the rights and freedoms of citizens of the Kyrgyz Republic”.

In June 2010, southern Kyrgyzstan experienced an inter-ethnic conflict, resulting in more than 5,000 criminal cases being initiated. The vast majority of the victims were ethnic Uzbeks, many of whom lacked information about access to redress and reparations. As a result, the Office developed legal training to address this lack of legal resources and help confront a culture of impunity and injustice. Recently trained lawyers have now started to take up pending cases to restore justice as well as to use this opportunity to build their professional career.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to share knowledge, experience, practice, vision and points of view with one another,” says Akylbek Tashbulatov, lawyer and trainer. “I hope to create an effective group of young lawyers with entirely new approaches to the protection of human rights.”

The workshops were conducted in cooperation with the Lawyers Training Centre of the Bar Association of the Kyrgyz Republic and supported by the Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic. It covered topics such as effective protection of human rights, advocacy skills and conflict resolution.

Asanova said she uses the knowledge gained from the training for more than just providing legal counsel. She also actively passes on her knowledge by conducting her own training sessions with young people in her area. She educates them on concepts such as equality, discrimination, human rights, justice and democracy.

“Their education will contribute to the sense of justice in the protection of human rights and reduce the levels of human rights violations, both now and in the future,” she said. “Today, young people are poorly represented in state structures. We need to prepare young people in the rule of law, to provide the knowledge that will be foundational to their lives.”


30 December 2016

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