UNDP and the Ministry of justice launched a free legal aid hotline to expand the access to justice for people of Kyrgyzstan

January 18, 2023

Monica Rijal, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative (on the left) and Akzhol Kalbekov, Chair of the Legal Aid Service (on the right) at the opening ceremony hotline 114

Today, the Ministry of Justice with UNDP under the EU–UN Spotlight Initiative launched “114 hotline”, a free legal aid hotline to provide legal information, assistance and counselling to the population, including those affected by sexual and gender-based violence, and, if necessary, referral to the appropriate services. Access to quality survivor-centered services is critical to strengthen protection and safety of survivors and prevent recurring cycles of violence.

The "114 hotline” was officially launched by Mr. Akzhol Kalbekov, Chair of the Legal Aid Service and Ms. Monica Rijal, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.

Ms. Monica Rijal, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative, in her opening speech, noted: "As global practices are demonstrating, legal helplines are key tools for strengthening public access to legal information, promoting legal literacy, and legal empowerment of citizens.

They are also essential for referring clients to the most suitable service provider and coordinating effective assistance, especially for cases of violence against women and girls. While we celebrate the potential benefits of the legal aid hotline, we shall also recognize that the effective development of this new tool will take time, and the system will need to be further, carefully strengthened, monitored, evaluated, and improved."

Also, Ms. Monica Rijal emphasized that Data of the Ministry of Justice confirmed that, over the years, the public demand for legal assistance has considerably increased. People need more and better information to understand their legal entitlements and rights, whether related to property, civil documentation, land, or common issues for women, such as inheritance, alimony, divorce, child custody, or domestic violence.”

The “114 hotline” will be operating under the Legal Aid Service of the Ministry of Justice. The hotline aims at providing free legal aid services to the population, including strengthening services’ provisions on cases of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), in line with international human rights standards. In particular, the hotline will assist with legal information, including primary and qualified legal assistance and improve intersectoral referral mechanisms to ensure quality and coordinated services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence focusing on the needs of women and girls facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

Mr. Akzhol Kalbekov, Chair of the Legal Aid Service, stated that the “Hotline 114 was created as part of a new concept of legal assistance, included in the Law of the Kyrgyz Republic “On state-guaranteed legal assistance”, primary legal assistance at a new high level.

To kick off this project, a great deal of work has been done, including the conceptual, technical and legal aspects. The hotline received its short number "114" in the system, the premises were prepared, special technical means were purchased and put into operation, and training of operators was conducted. This work was carried out to ensure that the population of the Kyrgyz Republic has the opportunity to receive fast and high-quality primary legal assistance at a new high level. In this regard, we express our sincere gratitude to the UNDP office in the Kyrgyz Republic and the Spotlight Initiative project, which provided technical support to the project."

About the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative

In January 2020, in partnership with the Cabinet of Ministers of the Kyrgyz Republic, the EU and the UN launched a multi-year country program under the global Spotlight Initiative to end all forms of violence against women and girls. The program aims to create an environment where all women and girls in Kyrgyzstan, especially the most vulnerable, live free from violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and ala kachuu. The program includes a set of integrated policy and legislative measures, institutional strengthening, violence prevention, services for survivors of violence, quality data collection, and support for the women's movement and civil society. The program is implemented by five UN agencies (UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNODC) under the overall leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator in the Kyrgyz Republic.