Kyrgyzstani legal clinic fights repressive new Constitution

SRT grantee Adilet, a legal clinic in Kyrgyzstan has seen a series of victories despite the increasingly authoritarian and restrictive political landscape in the country.

The last two years have seen major political upheaval after a new Constitution was ratified in May 2021. This increased presidential authority and reduced the size and role of parliament, bringing the judiciary under the control of the President Sadyr Japarov. Since then, criminal cases against political opponents, civil society activists and journalists have escalated. Severe restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, association and assembly as well as the right to a fair trial, have followed. For example, in August 2021 a new law on ‘Protection against Inaccurate Information’ was adopted, which effectively established state censorship of the internet.

However, Adilet’s challenges to a raft of unforeseen legislation have altered the draft Constitution itself, with 90% of its submissions on human rights being incorporated. They also managed to improve Labour legislation by blocking state control of labour unions, and improve the Criminal Code by incorporating human rights protections.

Adilet was established in 2002 and provides assistance to vulnerable groups including human rights defenders, refugees, civil society activists and journalists. The group conducts analysis of the impact of legislation on human rights, using its significant influence among parliamentarians and the Kyrgyz government to improve legislation. Adilet has been a grantee since 2015, and SRT is the group’s largest source of unrestricted funds. Adilet’s, director Cholpon Djakupova said their recent challenges to this legislation could not have been possible without the flexibility of SRT’s unrestricted funds.

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