UNDP and Government of Finland Join Efforts To Help Improve Access To Justice For Kyrgyz Citizens
Bishkek, 10 December 2013 – Today, Mr. Alexander Avanessov, UNDP Resident Representative and Mr. Ilkka Räisänen, Ambassador of Finland to Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, signed a cooperation agreement to implement a new project “Widening Access to Justice for Legal Empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic.” It is aimed at legal empowerment of vulnerable groups and improving overall access to justice. The four year project funded by the Government of Finland will start its work in January 2014. Overall budget of the project is two million euros.
“It is symbolic that we launch the project on improving access to justice today, on the World Human Rights Day, which is marked worldwide on December 10th, because this project is about making people aware of their rights and how to exercise them. Rights are not some abstract ideas set forth in laws but shall be facts of life of the citizens,” noted Mr. Avanessov in his opening remarks.
The project will focus on supporting the development of state funded legal aid system as well as promoting legal awareness to provide rights holders with enhanced access to justice. It will engage duty bearers (state bodies and justice sector actors) and rights holders (general population with special focus on the most vulnerable groups, including rural women, children and youth at risk, people with disabilities, civil societies organizations and communities).
“We hope that the project will help Kyrgyzstanis, especially women, children and persons with disabilities exercise their rights in full and get legal aid in compliance with international human rights standards and recommendations,” stated Mr. Ilkka Räisänen.
In Central Asia, the Kyrgyz Republic has acceded to the largest number of core UN human rights treaties and conventions. However, the willingness to ratify international human rights standards stands in contrast to generally poor implementation of human rights provisions and regulations. Kyrgyzstan’s struggle for protection of human rights and implementation of the rule of law has been hampered by many factors starting from poor understanding of international human rights and justice standards by government authorities to lack of knowledge among ordinary citizens about their rights.
At the same time, Kyrgyzstan’s official commitments to human rights are strong and open. The recently adopted National Sustainable Development Strategy for the Kyrgyz Republic (2013-2017) makes clear that better access to justice for everyone is a top priority. Thus, the project will contribute to implementation of the strategy.
Alexander Kashkarev, UNDP Programme and Policy Analyst, 611213
Ilima Bokoshova, UNDP Programme Associate, human rights focal point, 611213