“Access to the SGLA system reduces the level of violence and legal offences”

Posted October 20, 2021

A woman receiving free legal aid in Chui oblast, Kyrgyzstan. photo: D.Motinov / UNDP Kyrgyzstan

Today, access to justice, acess to the system of the State guaranteed legal aid (SGLA), automatically reduces the level of violence and legal offences and will generally influence the atmosphere of safety in the country. Nazgul Turdubekova, a director of the Child rights defenders’ league public foundation, believes this to be so. She has told about the role of the Coordination council for SGLA development and how its operation can be strengthened.

The children of the labor migrants are more often exposed to violence

The lack of the effective system to detect the children from deprived backgrounds, to provide them with timely aid as well as the lack of the effective measures to prevent crimes against children result in sharp deterioration of the children’s position. The messages of death or child abuse are received every day as the status reports from the battlefield.

All actions of the authorized persons to protect the child rights do not meet standards in our republic. They are not able to protect disadvantaged children and children from the risk group.

Such situation has not developed immediately. The situation in this area has deteriorated over the past 5-6 years. The flow of labor migrants has increased. Migration influences the entire life of not only a migrant, but all his family members.

An increasing number of people go to near and far abroad. Many of them cannot take their children and have to leave them with their relatives, neighbors and friends. Moreover, they do not enter into contractual relationships with a person, who they leave their children, hoping only for good relations and that the attitude to their children will be good. However, it does not work in practice. As soon as the child is left with other people, his safety is automatically reduced several times: the child will be poorly fed, the care will not be the same as the parents’ care, etc.

The parents lay the entire responsibility and authority on persons, who they leave their children and partially on school. The child is in a vulnerable position. As evidenced in practice, the cases of violence and abuse are very often detected with regard to children of the labor migrants.

What to do?

The situation has deteriorated and at the same time the number of social workers has not been increased locally by the state, but on the contrary, the number of child protection officers is decreasing and their number is already small at the district level.

There is no social worker, who specializes in child protection and family support. There are no standards for the duties of one officer from the Family and children protection department, which leads to the staff turnover. The salary of a social worker is KGS 6-7 thousand.  

The specific child protection measures are required: it is necessary to train the officers and properly pay for their labor.

According to Turdubekova, accounting of the migrants’ children and creation in Kyrgyzstan of the official and binding procedure for execution of a temporary power of attorney and, subsequently, guardianship will strengthen the responsibility for the children’s health of the parents-migrants and the relatives, to whom they are left.

She has stated that it is necessary to accelerate the adoption of a new version of the draft Code on children. The new version has been adopted by the Jogorku Kenesh in tree readings and is now submitted to the signature of the Kyrgyz President. She believes that a further delay in the adoption can lead to deterioration of the children’s position, their safety and observance of their rights.

Access to justice and the SGLA system is important

The system of the state guaranteed legal aid (SGLA) has started to develop in Kyrgyzstan. The UNDP and MFA of Finland project “Towards a sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the KR” has made a great contribution to development and establishment of the SGLA system in our country.

If the SGLA system has not been regulated before due to the lack of proper funding and attention,  now there is already progress. For example, delivery of free legal services ensures access to justice for children (their parents, guardians, etc.) from deprived backgrounds. Some children were found in the street, did not go to school. There were cases, when children lived for many years without a certificate of birth. The parents could not receive benefits due to absence of the documents. Solving these issues, we refer the citizens to the Free legal aid centers. They receive consultations there and can be provided with qualified legal aid.

The free services solve not only legal issues, but also improve legal knowledge. People have confidence in the state that it will not leave its citizens in dire straits.

If a person does not have access to justice, he suffers humiliation and cannot practically realize his main civil rights. If a person needs help, an atmosphere of human rights observance shall be around him. When he feels that the rights are observed, he will not have a desire to infringe on other people’s rights. This automatically reduces the level of violence and legal offences, and will generally influence the atmosphere of safety in the country. Therefore, today access to justice, access to the SGLA system is so important. It is necessary to provide for strengthening of the lawyers’ capacity through creation of the conditions for them in term of work coordination as a part of the SGLA promotion.

Experience of other countries

The experience of Moldova in protecting the rights of the disadvantaged children is illustrative. This country is similar to Kyrgyzstan in its social and economic indicators. The migration of the population is also high there. But they have managed to build a system of monitoring and assessment for all children, whose parents are in labor migration. The coordination of family support and child protection is well built. There is a strong system of legal aid delivery by the state: a study of documentation, legislation and implementation of laws. The system of state services delivery monitoring and assessment is in place. Therefore, Kyrgyzstan needs to introduce the SGLA system everywhere as soon as possible to ensure that there is no person, who does not know how to apply for legal aid.

When a citizen is confident in the state, this is the main indicator that Kyrgyzstan is developing in the right direction.