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Kyrgyzstan: Why human rights have been declining over the last 20 years and what happened to the ‘Switzerland’ of Central Asia?

Article by Jasmine Cameron

March 1, 2021

Kyrgyzstan: Why human rights have been declining over the last 20 years and what happened to the ‘Switzerland’ of Central Asia?


It has been more than two decades since the Kyrgyz Republic became independent.  At that time, Kyrgyzstan had an ambitious agenda to become a ‘Switzerland’ of Central Asia and open up the country to new opportunities, embrace the market economy and become a true democracy where human rights are respected and protected. However, despite these initial goals, true and meaningful reforms never took place because of the three main factors that have driven these trends and directly impacting the protection and implementation of human rights. The factors are: the endemic corruption, the lack of political will and the culture of impunity, or ‘legal mentality’, a mindset where people believe that there will be no consequences for ignoring or subverting the legal process, and lack of respect for the rule of law. In order to overcome these obstacles, the Government of Kyrgyzstan as well as the international community must agree on a road map on how to better protect the rights of the people of Kyrgyzstan and especially the vulnerable and marginalised. The road map should include a conditionality rule that requires the Government to protect human rights in order to receive large aid packages or financial loans or technical assistance. In other words, the human rights agenda should always be front and center of the internal policies, and be a main objective during the external negotiations or evaluations of progress.



Kyrgyzstan is a small landlocked country in Central Asia, located south of Kazakhstan and west of China, which gained its independence in 1991 after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.[1] The population of the country is slightly over six million people, with the majority of people living in rural areas and 32 per cent of the population living under the poverty line.[2]


In the earlier stages of independence, Kyrgyzstan was consistently called the ‘Switzerland’ of Central Asia, illustrating the international community’s hopes for the country and its potential to become an ‘island of democracy’ in the region.[3] Kyrgyzstan joined many international organisations and ratified the main human rights conventions.[4] For example, in 1992, Kyrgyzstan became the member of the World Bank, in 1994, Kyrgyzstan was the first among Central Asian republics to accede to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in 1998 was the first country of the former Soviet republics to join the World Trade Organization.[5]


Although the country took these important steps to become a democracy, through the years the Government of Kyrgyzstan has not respected, promoted, protected, and fulfilled its human rights obligations or its democratic promise. The country is considered to be only partially free by Freedom House’s Freedom in the World Report, with a score of 38/100.[6] It is battling endemic corruption and was placed at 126th out of 180 on the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index (CPI).[7] The rule of law reforms have stalled and the 2020 WJP rule of law index was at 0.48 or 87th place out of 128 countries; judicial independence remains elusive with the score of three out of seven, placing it at 106th out of 141 in the 2019 Global Competitiveness Index; and the country’s overall human rights record is worsening.[8]


The leaders of Kyrgyzstan fell into a disappointingly familiar cycle of retrenchment and backsliding on human rights and reforms. The first President, Askar Akayev, was elected in October 1991. Initially he positioned himself as a reformer and a moderate leader.[9] However, in his later years in office, he became more authoritarian by suppressing opposition members, more corrupt by allowing his family and others become enriched on local resources, and more willing to let lapse those international and local rules that might have reigned in his corruption.[10] This behaviour led to the ‘Tulip’ revolution in March 2005, and Akayev resigned a month later.[11] The second President Kurmanbek Bakiyev was elected in July 2005. Despite initial optimism, his presidency was marred by many problems including a failing economy, ties to criminals and the killings of several Members of Parliament (Jogorku Kenesh), corruption and his family’s battles over lucrative businesses.[12] In 2010, another revolution forced Bakiyev to flee and President Atambayev eventually took power in December 2011, following a short stint by Rosa Otunbayeva as interim President. Atambaev’s presidency was also troubled and problematic. While some reforms took place and new amendments to the constitution were adopted during his one six-year term in office, he was connected with many corruption cases ‘ranging from the illegal privatisation of municipal property to the embezzlement of funds from infrastructure projects.’[13] In November 2017, new President Sooronbay Jeenbekov became President, in the so-called first democratic transfer of power in the country. Jeenbekov was not president for long, however, and in 2020, after contested Parliamentary elections he was forced out in another revolution, that many observers called a coup d’état.[14] While it is too early to rule on how sincerely the most recent president Sadyr Japarov’s administration will support a human rights agenda, the methods used by him and his supporters to achieve power are concerning.


During this period, the overall human rights record deteriorated – the rights of the vulnerable, minority, women and marginalised groups remain unprotected; torture practices are common; human rights defenders, journalists and lawyers are harassed, and the environment for the civil society to operate is becoming more difficult.[15] The gender inequality in society and violations against the rights of women and girls have been getting worse in spite of recent legislative amendments aimed at improving the situation.[16] Violence against women is “wide-spread” and women are subject to “domestic violence, bride kidnapping, trafficking, early marriages and physical abuse” with limited access to justice to remedy such violations.[17] The situation with the rights of people with disabilities remains to be “unsatisfactory”.[18] People with disabilities continue to be discriminated against and isolated from the community especially when it comes to the access to medical care, political participation in decision-making on disability issues and the policy-making processes, though hopes are high for improvements after the 2019 CRPD ratification.[19] The rights of minorities continue to remain a sensitive topic for the Government and society especially in the aftermath of the 2010 inter-ethnic conflict in the south of Kyrgyzstan.[20] An Uzbek minority human rights defender and journalist Azimjan Askarov was detained, tortured and prosecuted after these events.[21] Askarov passed away in prison on July 25th 2020, in spite of the 2016 UN Human Rights Committee’s decision demanding his immediate release and many other interventions and advocacy efforts by the international community.[22] The torture practices by the law enforcement bodies have been an on-going reality for the past decades and appear to be “systematic”.[23] For example, in the first half of 2019, there were 171 allegations of torture registered in Kyrgyzstan and only in 11 cases prosecutors opened and investigated the cases.[24] The situation of human rights of the LGBTQ people remains challenging when violations, hate crimes and discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation are “menacingly systematic” and continuing.[25]


While many factors could account for these failures, the three most relevant reasons hindering the protection and enforcement of human rights are corruption, the lack of political will to protect human rights and the culture of impunity, i.e. legal mentality that allows a continuing culture of disrespect for the rule of law and human rights. These reasons affect human rights directly because the core of these human rights lie in protection of the most vulnerable and marginalised people, thus the existence of corruption and its repugnant effects harm the vulnerable people by denying them essential government services such as social support, health services, education, as well as legal services such as access to lawyers, courts and law enforcement.[26]



In the last two decades, Kyrgyzstan, just like many other countries of the former Soviet Union, was one of the most corrupt countries in the world.[27] Though many anti-corruption laws and initiatives were enacted, this negative trend endures.[28] Kyrgyzstan’s corruption continues to be one of the most challenging obstacles in its overall development with a score of 29/100 in the Global Competitiveness Index and remains to be a barrier for rule of law implementation as indicated above.[29]


The Kyrgyz people themselves recognise and react to the detrimental effects of corruption. When asked about government performance, they indicated corruption as the third most important concern (47 per cent) after health (67 per cent) and the economy (52 per cent).[30] After the June 2019 Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project’s (OCCRP) reporting, ‘Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia’, on Kyrgyzstan’s customs officials’ funneling $700 million out of the country, people took to the streets and demanded accountability and investigation into these allegations.[31] In October 2020, another series of reporting on corruption by the OCCPR called ‘The Matraimov Kingdom’ was published and caused a strong public reaction right before the October parliamentary elections, which themselves were characterised as having serious allegations of vote buying.[32] The protests against corruption and other political events in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, have been on-going since.[33]


While corruption exists in many areas of society including education, health care, city utilities, the corruption in the justice system has the most detrimental effect on the implementation and enforcement of human rights. The Government should be able to protect and fulfil its international human rights obligations and rely on the legal system in place to hold perpetrators accountable whether they are state or non-state actors. A legal system should allow for the Government to, first, conduct effective investigations at the initial stages of the legal process. Second, prosecutors should establish cases with sufficient and sound evidentiary basis to send to court. Third, the courts must comply with the fair trial standards to ensure impartial, competent and fair hearings to deliver just and legally sound decisions.


In practice, the insidious effects of corruption make reaching accountability during these legal steps a very bumpy and problematic process. Due to corruption, the law enforcement bodies are known for being ineffective, unprofessional, abusive and weak. The local culture of tribalism — where people support their relatives affiliated with the same local tribes – leads to “nepotism and unprofessional conduct, which in turns leads to operational inefficiencies.”[34] Some local police districts are influenced by local government officials making them vulnerable to partiality when investigating cases.[35] Victims often have a difficult time convincing police officers to even register complaints in part because of the pervasive corruption and, in part, because of the legal culture discussed below. For example, in 2019, there were 9,000 cases of domestic violence. Of those, approximately 5,456 cases were registered with the authorities as administrative cases, and only around 784 were registered as criminal.[36] Bribery, as a form of corruption, of law enforcement bodies remains common among citizens in order to avoid investigation or prosecution.[37] When asked if respondents or members of their families paid a bribe to police in the previous year when they came into contact with the service, 61 per cent replied positively which indicates that bribing police officials is a common practice.[38] While legislation exists to prohibit corruption including bribery, the laws overall have mostly declarative nature and do not envision detailed mechanisms of implementation.[39]


Extortion by law enforcement officers of those accused in the form of threatened arbitrary arrests, torture and the potential criminal prosecution is also quite common.[40] For example, police targets the members of the marginalised community and LGBT people to extort money from them. The Human Rights Watch reported that police tortured and extorted money from gay men and threaten them not to seek accountability.[41] When one of such victims, Mikhail Kudryashov, tried to demand remedies, the court did not adjudicate his case, thus, contributing to the culture of impunity and lack of accountability.[42]


Further, there is no relief from corruption when a case gets to the courts – the bribes and cash payments in relation to judicial decisions are among the highest in the world.[43] The judges and judiciary in general are vulnerable to corruption in part because of the politicised system of judicial appointments and low salaries for judicial personnel.[44] In 2010, a new Council for the Selection of judges was introduced and was tasked with the selection of candidates for the judges to the Constitutional, Supreme and local courts to be appointed by the President and the Parliament. Although the council did not include any representatives from the executive brunch, the two-third of the council consisted of the members of the political parties in parliament making the appointment process vulnerable to political influence.[45] The judicial branch is also dependent on the executive branch because the executive is responsible for the budget allocation.[46]


Many attempts have been made to reform and eradicate corruption in the justice system, but with limited success. In 2019, the Kyrgyz Government, with the support of donors, adopted a number of changes to the local laws attempting to eliminate “repressive measures” and develop “new methods” to better protection of human rights.[47] The reforms aimed to, among other things, shift the authority in investigative actions from prosecutors to courts, create an office of investigative judge, introduce a new system of probation, digitise courtrooms and investigative offices, and create a unified register.[48] It is still too early to see any marked improvements.


Other initiatives also supported by foreign donors include the EU’s 12.2 million euro rule of law programmes that have been running since 2014 and are focusing to increase the “effectiveness of judicial administration by creating transparency and credibility within judicial and court structures and fighting corruption.”[49] The United States Agency for International Development (USIAD) funded and implemented numerous programmes over the past years to support the Kyrgyz judiciary.[50] For example, in 2008-2010, USAID administered the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s (MCC) Threshold programme of $16 million, which supported reforms in the judiciary, as well as in prosecutorial services, to fight corruption.[51] The e-justice programme implemented through the International Development Law Organization (IDLO) was another USAID-funded initiative which assisted with the creation of a country-wide portal that aims to make all court decisions available to the public by digitising them.[52] The most recent project funded by the USAID is a $3.2 million programme to “increase public trust in the Judiciary as an independent branch of power”.[53] While all these initiatives are very much needed, they are not always sustainable nor fully implemented once the grants money runs out, meaning that ultimately the local government is not held accountable for delivering long-term change.


Lack of political will power

The second factor that contributes to poor human rights protection is the lack of political will when the key decision makers fail to understand, implement and ensure that the policy solutions for human rights protections are carried out.[54] Former Presidents of Kyrgyzstan, Akayev, Bakiyev, Atambaev, Jeenbekov, and their administrations all lacked the necessary political will and failed to deliver and implement needed reforms to ensure sufficient protection of human rights. The reasons for this lack of political will are multifaced and complex, but corruption, abuse of office for personal gain, ties to the criminal world, and corrupt personal agenda seem to top the list.


While the first President Akayev was publicly outlining ambitious plans to build a new democratic and independent country where the rule of law prevailed, his era was characterised by limited support, funding and follow-through of human rights policies, plans and programmes. Akayev’s personnel policy of keeping the ‘old guard’ at the important regional governor positions as well as to staff other top seats of power with a close tribal network did not promote reform, as those leaders did not understand, implement and enforce the new policies in the regions, ensuring that his administration’s commitment to reform would fail.[55]


With President Bakiyev, the human rights agenda took a back seat when his close circle engaged in power grabs, dealing with criminal elements, and dividing lucrative contracts and businesses. The next two presidents, Atambaev and Jeenbekov, had followed similar patterns where their administrations did not have either true commitment to reform, nor had clear ideas or understanding of the policy solutions require to implement and deliver solutions to specific problems.[56] Such approaches certainly undermined the reform process and demonstrated the lack of political will to deliver basic rule of law to the public.


People’s ‘legal mentality’ – the culture of impunity and disrespect for the rule of law

The third issue responsible for the poor record of human rights is people’s ‘legal mentality’, i.e. the culture of impunity and the low level of respect and understanding of the concepts of the rule of law.[57] The laws protecting human rights are not implemented and do not work in practice if people do not believe in those laws, do not trust them and do not think there is accountability for violating them. As a result, such beliefs ultimately shape the attitudes and lead to behaviours where violating the law becomes a norm for both state-actors and citizens.


The culture of the rule of law is a complex and multifaceted concept in practice and there are vast resources, literature and manuals exist on the topic.[58] In Kyrgyzstan, the low culture of respect for the rule of law has its origins from the Soviet culture, where transparency, equality and accountability were an uncommon practice and ‘telephone justice’ was a norm.[59] In the current conditions of Kyrgyzstan, for example, lawyers (less so judges and prosecutors) are assaulted in or outside the courtroom by the members of the community because of the lack of understanding of the role of the legal profession as the lawyers are often identified with their clients and because of the lack of the accountability and consequences for such behaviour.[60] Similarly, the victims of gender violence would often be harassed not only by the perpetrator’s family, but also by the members of the larger community, as well as law enforcement and prosecutors because of their ignorance of the laws and wide-spread misogyny and sexism.[61]


To change this legal mentality towards the rule of law, there should be a desire from the community to make appropriate changes – both the Government and civil society.[62] In 2016, the Kyrgyz Government seemingly understood the problem and adopted a resolution on the Concept of Increasing of Legal Culture of the Population of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2016-2020 (Concept).[63] The concept aimed to “introduce a systematic approach to improve the legal culture, including legal training and education of the population, formation of modern legal culture and behaviour.”[64] The concept outlined a set of objectives and an action plan to reach those goals by raising awareness among the public and setting up educational initiatives to inform young generation about the importance of following the laws, by working with the local media to create relevant public campaigns, and by coordinating with the government agencies to ensure the implementation of these objectives. For example, one of such activity under this Concept was the ‘bus of solidarity’ initiative where a group of local lawyers traveled to remote areas of Chui and Osh regions to provide free legal advice, servicing 4,145 people in 2016-2017 and approximately 4,000 people in 2020.[65]


Other advocacy campaigns took place to achieve these goals. In 2008, the above mentioned MCC Threshold anti-corruption programme created cartoons for children highlighting human values that stealing, lying and cheating are not good behaviours and are not acceptable by their families, their community and the country.[66] In 2014, similar public awareness campaigns, competitions, art exhibits, and programmes also took place to improve the legal culture and to fight the culture of impunity.[67] While such individual programmes and actions may have been a success at that time, the consistency of the message and sustainability of such efforts is lacking. Without appropriate support from all stakeholders, it will likely take years to make a measurable difference in local legal culture. It remains an open question if the new administration will see this as a problem worth addressing.


Conclusion and Recommendations

The path forward for Kyrgyzstan is a challenging one and difficult choices and coordinated action must be made if there will be a serious attempt to bring real reform and respect for rule of law, and thus providing for better protection for human rights. That said, Kyrgyzstan faces an important decision point – rule of law leads to greater prosperity and integration with the international community. Continued endemic corruption leads to stagnation and instability. It is not too late for Kyrgyzstan to pursue tangible reforms even in times of political instability. That said, the longer these reforms are delayed, the more difficult they will be to bring to conclusion. Given Kyrgyzstan’s low culture of rule of law, at a certain point, existing systems will not be able to bear the pain and uncertainty that long-term reforms necessitate. In order to improve the situation for the protection of human rights in Kyrgyzstan, all stakeholders have a role to play:


  • The Kyrgyz Government have to demonstrate commitment and put the human rights agenda front and center into their internal policies using a human rights-based approach;
  • The Kyrgyz Government has to respect, promote, protect and fulfil its international human rights obligations, failure to do so may trigger conditions of the financial and technical assistance;
  • The Kyrgyz Government have to show political will and true commitment to combat corruption and improve the rule of law;
  • The Kyrgyz Government should continue its work on improving the legal mentality and educating the population on the importance of the rule of law and respect for the legal norms;
  • Local civil society should continue to monitor the human rights situation, report on any violations and raise awareness both locally and with the international community;
  • Local civil society should also be more unified and show more solidarity when it comes to the protecting their professional rights and their interests, for example, for the lawyers, journalists, minorities, and marginalised groups;
  • The international community should use their leverage and put conditions that the human rights agenda and rule of law are included and are addressed by the local government when negotiating for potential loans or financial assistance programs; and
  • The international community and donors should continue to provide assistance in a demand driven way supporting the human rights defenders, civils society organisations and empowering local communities to continue the reforms and make changes for the better.


Jasmine Cameron, Esq., is a US-trained human rights lawyer, originally from Kyrgyzstan. Jasmine has been working for the US Government and non-profit organizations and living overseas for many years. She was implementing the rule of law and human rights programs in the regions of Europe and Eurasia.


Image by Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic to Switzerland.


[1] CIA: The World Fact Book, Kyrgyzstan, The World Factbook,,

[2] Ibid.

[3] The Frontline World, Kyrgyzstan, The Kidnapped Bride, PBS, March 2004,

[4] OHCHR, View the ratification status by country or by treaty, Ratification Status for Kyrgyzstan, United Nations Human Rights Treaty Bodies, In 1994, Kyrgyzstan ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights (CESSR), and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). In 1997, it joined the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT), as well as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). In 2003, Kyrgyzstan joined the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families (CMW). Most recently, in 2019, Kyrgyzstan joined the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

[5] Ibid. See also World Trade Organization, Kyrgyz Republic to become WTO member, October 1998,; see also United Nations, Sustainable Development Knowledge Platform,

[6] Freedom House, 2020 Freedom in the World Report,

[7] Transparency International, Annual Report, It also gives the score of 31 out of 100 (0 – highly corrupt and 100 – very clean), though this score is an improvement from the years before, for example, in 2012 Kyrgyzstan had the score of 154.

[8] World Justice Project, WJP 2020 Rule of Law Index,; World Economic Forum’s 2019 Global Competitiveness Index,; Human Rights Watch, 2021 World Report Kyrgyzstan,;  Amnesty International, Kyrgyzstan,

[9] Regine A. Spector, The Transformation of Askar Akaev, President of Kyrgyzstan, University of California, Berkeley, Spring 2004,

[10] RFE/RL, Central Asia Report: August 22, 2002, RFE/RL, August 2002,

[11] International Crisis Group, Kyrgyzstan After the Revolution, May 2005,

[12] BBC NEWS, Kyrgyz MP shot dead in Bishkek, May 2006,; BBC NEWS, Kyrgyz rally against corruption, April 2006,

[13] Satina Aidar, What we know about alleged elite corruption under former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev, openDemocracy, October 2018,

[14] Vladimir Pirogov, Coup d’etat ‘under way’ as Kyrgyzstan opposition claims power, The Sydney Morning Herald, October 2020,

[15] Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan: Events of 2019, (HRW 2019 Report),; see also Amnesty International, Kyrgyzstan,; see also Committee to Protect Journalist (CPJ): Kyrgyzstan, 2020,; see situation with human rights defenders at Frontline Defenders, Kyrgyzstan,; see also the situation with lawyers Legal Clinic Adilet’s Report on Lawyers,; see also Kyrgyzstan’s Bar Association’s Public Letter to the Kyrgyz President on concerning trends of attacks on lawyers,; Radio Azattyk, Osh: The lawyer says that he was under surveillance and eavesdropping, November 2020,

[16] Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan: Events of 2019,

[17] UN Women, Kyrgyzstan,; see also American Bar Association, Center for Human Rights: Violence against Women in Kyrgyzstan: Barriers to Accessing Justice, Fair Trial Rights, and the Right of Peaceful Assembly, December 2020,–barriers-to-accessing-just/; see also American Bar Association, Center for Human Rights, Trial Observation Report: Kyrgyzstan vs. Gulzhan Pasanova, May 2020,

[18] Gulmira Kazakunova, Kyrgyzstan’s Social Protection Measures and Programmes, United Nations, June 2018,

[19] Amnesty International, One year after CRPD ratification in Kyrgyzstan, March 2020,

[20] Minority Rights Group International, Kyrgyzstan, Kyrgyzstan also got a 55 place in 2020 on the people under threat index that identifies communities facing potential threats of genocide, mass killing, or systematic repressions.

[21] Human rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan: Travesty of Justice for Rights Defender,

[22] Committee to Protect Journalists,  Azimjan Askarov,; also see,  OHCHR | Release Azimjan Askarov and quash his conviction, UN human rights experts urge Kyrgyzstan,; see the UN Human Rights Committee’s decision at ; US State Department, 2014 Human Rights Defender Award Ceremony for Azimjan Askarov and Foro Penal,; Human Rights Watch, Joint Letter to the EU on Detention of Azimjan Askarov in Kyrgyzstan, November 2018,

[23] Olga Dolzhenkova and Alexandra Vasilkova, The History Of Torture In Kyrgyzstan: “Used Combat Sambo Techniques To Protect Oneself”, CABAR, July 2020,

[24] US Department of State, 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kyrgyz Republic (DOS 2019 HRPR),

[25] Joint submission to the United Nations Universal Periodic Review, Kyrgyzstan: Human Rights Violations Of

LGBT,; Human rights Watch, 2019 World Report, Kyrgyzstan,

[26] Lucy Koechlin and Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmon, Corruption and human rights: exploring the connection.

[27] Robert Legvold, Corruption, Global Security, and World Order, Corruption, the Criminalized State and Post-Soviet Transition.

[28] OECD, Kyrgyzstan, Anti-Corruption Reforms in Kyrgyzstan, March 2015,

[29] OECD, Kyrgyzstan anti-corruption project,

[30]  Transparency International, Corruption Barometer, Annual Report Kyrgyzstan, 2016

[31] OCCRP, Plunder and Patronage in the Heart of Central Asia, November 2019,; US News, World News, Hundreds Protest Over Kyrgyz Corruption Report, November 2019,

[32] OCCPR, The Matraimov Kingdom, October 2020,; see also, OSCE, Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, Kyrgyzstan, ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission, October 2020,

[33] RFE/RL, Kyrgyz Activists Rally Against Corruption, February 2021,

[34] Risk and Compliance Portal, Kyrgyzstan Country Report, July 2020,

[35] Ibid.

[36] Human Rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan – Events of 2018,

[37] Risk and Compliance Portal, Kyrgyzstan Country Report, July 2020,

[38] OECD, Kyrgyzstan, Anti-Corruption Reforms in Kyrgyzstan, March 2015,

[39] Ibid

[40] U.S. Department of State, 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kyrgyz Republic,

[41]Human rights Watch, Kyrgyzstan: Police torture gay men,

[42] Ibid.

[43] Risk and Compliance Portal, Kyrgyzstan Country Report, July 2020,

[44] Transparency International, Kyrgyzstan: Overview of Corruption and anti-corruption,;  see also Sustainable Development Goals, Voluntary Review of the Kyrgyz Republic, p. 121,

[45] Transparency International, Kyrgyzstan: Overview of Corruption and anti-corruption,

[46] Ibid.

[47] Sustainable Development Goals, Voluntary Review of the Kyrgyz Republic,

[48] TI Report, at p. 8 and Voluntary Review, at p. 122.

[49] IRZ, Kyrgyzstan: The Rule of Law Programme in the Kyrgyz Republic – 2nd phase (ROLPRO2), April 2020,

[50] USAID, U.S. Foreign Aid by Country,

[51] Millennium Challenge Corporation, Kyrgyz Republic Threshold Program,

[52] International Development Legal Organization, E-Nabling Sustainable Development: Lessons From E-Justice Programming In Kyrgyzstan, December 2018,

[53] USAID, Trusted Judiciary, Fact Sheet, Kyrgyz Republic,

[54] Since the 2000s, a term of political will has been defined, measured and mapped, and applied to many scenarios in the newly created states of the former Soviet states. The scholars define the political will as the extent of committed support among key decision makers for a particular policy solution to a particular problem. In other words, a set of decision-makers with a common understanding of a particular problem on the formal agenda is committed to supporting – a commonly perceived, potentially effective policy solution. See: Lori A. Post, Amber N. W. Raile, and Eric D. Raile, Defining Political Will, Montana State University, August 2010,;jsessionid=56375A117171857854D2CF29975F8C84?sequence=1

[55] Regine A. Spector, “The Transformation of Askar Akaev, President of Kyrgyzstan, University of California, Berkeley, 2004,

[56] Satina Aidar, What we know about alleged elite corruption under former Kyrgyz president Almazbek Atambayev, openDemocracy, October 2018,; see also Bertelsmann Stiftung, Transformation Index, Country Report 2020 Kyrgyzstan,

[57] This is a self-made term and is not commonly used, in the relevant literature it’s more likely referred to as the culture of impunity or legal culture. However, I prefer to use the term of ‘legal mentality’, as the term incorporates the idea of people’s mindset towards the rule of law culture.

[58] United Nations and the Rule of Law,; see also Leanne McKay, Toward-a-Rule-of-Law-Culture, United States Institute of Peace, 2015,; see also Center for Teaching the Rule of Law, Educational Resources,

[59] UNDP in Kyrgyz Republic, The legal culture starts from me, from you, from us, from each member of the society, September 2020,; see also Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic, On approval of the Concept of increasing the legal culture of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2016–2020,; See also International Crises Group, Kyrgyzstan: The Challenge of Judicial Reform, April 2008,

[60] Lawyers for Lawyers, Surveys of Working Conditions Lawyers,

[61] American Bar Association, Center for Human Rights, Trial Observation Report: Kyrgyzstan vs. Gulzhan Pasanova, May 2020,

[62] Leanne McKay, Toward-a-Rule-of-Law-Culture,  United States Institute of Peace, 2015,

[63] Ministry of Justice of the Kyrgyz Republic, On approval of the Concept of increasing the legal culture of the population of the Kyrgyz Republic for 2016–2020,

[64] UNDP in Kyrgyz Republic, Towards a sustainable access to justice for legal empowerment in the Kyrgyz Republic,

[65] UNDP in Kyrgyz Republic, 4,000 People Received Legal Aid Within Six Days, December 2020,

[66] Aljazeera, Kyrgyzstan cartoon takes aims at corruption, YouTube, December 2009, I was honored to be part of this initiative by helping to create and manage this project.

[67] OECD Report, p. 28.

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