Survey of working conditions lawyers
In June 2018 Lawyers for Lawyers in collaboration with Justice International conducted a survey in Kyrgyzstan among lawyers to determine the most pressing issues faced by advocates and lawyers as a result of their professional activities. A report of this survey is now available.
The survey focussed on seven main topics: access to the legal profession; right to independent practice; professional immunity; disciplinary proceedings; access to clients; confidential communications with clients; and right to information. While the results are more anecdotal than data-driven, several trends clearly emerged from this survey.
1. The rights of lawyers are protected by law, but in practice their rights are often violated due to insufficient or ineffective implementation of these norms.
2. It appears that in general, the rule of law is respected in broad outlines and lawyers are largely allowed to defend their client’s interests. That said there are still numerous failings in the details and implementation of how lawyers are treated.
3. Advocates and lawyers have a low status in society, and as a result, people engage in physical assaults, intimidations and threats without fear of ramifications for their actions.
Our survey found that most of the problems lawyers in Kyrgyzstan are facing seem to be overcome-able. The lawyers indicated that they believed many of the systemic failings were in the implementation at the local level and not larger political attempts to undermine the work of advocates. There are several straightforward steps that can be taken to improve the situation. It is incumbent on the Kyrgyz Bar Association, Government agencies including prosecutors’ offices, Ministry of Internal Affairs, local courts and the Ministry of Justice to work together and ensure that all law enforcement and judicial bodies understand the rights and responsibilities of lawyers and respond appropriately to lawyers’ requests. The government should publicly condemn, at all levels, any attack and other acts of harassment against lawyers, and actively seek to prevent such acts by adequate measures. Furthermore, national and international (non-profit) organizations should continue to monitor the situation on the ground and make the public aware when attorneys and lawyers’ rights are violated, continue to highlight the importance of the rule of law and make detailed and specific recommendations to the national government.
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