Speech: Gender-responsive and survivors-centered justice"

Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls in the Kyrgyz Republic

December 5, 2022

Your Excellencies: 

Ms. Isayeva Jamilya Kubanychbekovna, Deputy Toraga of the Kyrgyz Republic

Ms. Atyr Bolotbekovna Abdrakhmatova, Akyikatchy (Ombudsman) of the Kyrgyz Republic

Ms. Baitikova Elmira Turdakunovna, Director of the Higher School of Justice under the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic 

Ms. Marilyn Josephson, Head of Delegation of the European Union to the Kyrgyz Republic

Representatives from the Government, the Jogorku Kenesh, law faculties and academic organizations, women rights organizations, national and Development Partners,

Good morning and a warm welcome to all. 

On behalf of the Spotlight Initiative and the United Nations Development Programme, I am honored to welcome you to today's roundtable.

Our main objective today is to provide a comprehensive update on national progress towards the promotion of gender-sensitive and survivor-centric practices in law enforcement, justice and legal sectors to address violence against women and girls in the Kyrgyz Republic. 

We commend the Ministry of Internal Affairs, the Supreme Court of the Kyrgyz Republic, the Office of the General Prosecutor and the Advocatura, for their vital efforts to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system in dealing with cases of gender-based violence. 

We also commend our partners from the academic and educational sector: the Kyrgyz National Law University, the Kyrgyz National University, the Osh State University and the Academy of Management under the President of the Kyrgyz Republic. 

We are encouraged and inspired to learn that the learning modules developed under the Spotlight programme have already been incorporated into the official curriculum and from now on hundreds of students will learn about gender equality and women's rights in the course of their academic career.

Our deep appreciation goes to the European Union and our partners at the United Nations for their fundamental contribution to the advancement of gender equality and women's rights around the world.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As we approach December 10th, which globally commemorates the Human Rights Day and marks the end of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, we acknowledge the presence in this room of representatives of women's rights movements of Kyrgyzstan, including the Kyrgyz Association of Women Judges, who jointly supported this event with us.

This year, through the Secretary-General's UNiTE campaign, UNDP along with sister UN agencies are calling on governments and partners to act now to strengthen support for women's rights organizations to take transformative action to end violence against women and the girls.

Despite significant efforts made by countries, violence continues to affect women and girls of all backgrounds and everywhere.

In Kyrgyzstan, between 2020 and 2022, the situation of women's rights was examined by several international human rights instruments, including the third Universal Periodic Review of the Human Rights Council and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, also known as CEDAW for short.

Now they all commended improved national legislative frameworks to protect women's rights. However, they also raised serious concerns about the pervasiveness of gender-based violence across the country and the increase in the number of cases.

Against this backdrop, UNDP and the Ombudsman of the Kyrgyz Republic produced a special report in the second half of 2021 to assess the impact of national legislation on violence against women and girls, and on the effective safety of women and girls.

The study has once again confirmed that women and girls surviving violence are still granted very limited options for protection, safety, justice and legal redress.

Cases of gender-based violence are still rarely investigated, prosecuted, and punished; protection orders are not enforced as they should; and survivors are once again victimized during the criminal proceedings.

Most women are unable or unwilling to report - this is frequently reiterated by women rights’ activists and survivors of violence – for fear of retaliation and stigmatization.

This must change. We must do more to build a culture that prevents violence, and we must continue to work together to create an environment where victims feel safe and supported in reporting the crime and seeking redress.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today we are proud to present some of the Spotlight’s accomplishments that, in line with the last year’s recommendations of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, we believe are essential to change behaviors and actions, to improve the practices of police, prosecutors, judges and lawyers, in dealing with cases of gender-based violence and with survivors.

But today we also call again on the government, law enforcement and justice sector actors, educational and academic institutions, and all those expected to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, to exercise their current duties and responsibilities, especially in two fundamental ways:

First, nurturing a general culture and strengthening the code of conduct so as to demonstrate respect for women’s unique perspectives, and respecting their experiences, as a matter of procedure, professionalism, and human decency. To address the particular needs of women and girls, and of those who have been affected by violence, without question.

And secondly, to see the individual victim and respect and fulfil her rights. Officers of law enforcement and other authorities must conduct themselves in a way that recognizes, protects, and prioritizes the rights, the needs and the individual preferences of individual survivors of violence. To ensure that she can remain engaged, throughout the judicial process, and be met with respect! And where her consent, safety and confidentiality are paramount, and override the preferences of others.

This will contribute to build a stronger, and fairer system of justice.

As voiced by the United Nations Secretary General during the launch of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women:

Let’s continue to take a stand!

Raise our voices in support of women’s rights! 

Let’s consign violence against women and girls to the history books!

Thank you.