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Kyrgyzstan: Unpopular Judiciary Difficult to Reform

In the absence of juries, waiting for a final decision from a judge in Kyrgyzstan. (Photo: Dean Cox.)

Kyrgyzstan's trouble creating effective, independent and corruption-free political institutions remains one of the biggest threats to the country's long-term stability. Reforming the judiciary, which one recent poll rated as the country's most loathed institution, would go a long way toward rebuilding public confidence in the democratization process.

Though Kyrgyzstan enjoys a more pluralistic political system than its neighbors, a Kyrgyz court session often resembles a legal circus in which verdicts are determined in advance. Judges lack legal expertise and remain beholden to the executive branch. The Prosecutor General’s office, where officials are appointed by the president, retains disproportionate influence over judges, who issue verdicts. Conviction rates of almost 100 percent in criminal cases – the hallmark, say observers, of an authoritarian state rather than an aspiring democracy – and perceptions of systemic corruption, have undermined the public’s faith in due process.

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Kyrgyzstan: Unpopular Judiciary Difficult to Reform

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