For over a decade, the Government of the Kyrgyz Republic has attempted—largely unsuccessfully—to enhance security and earn citizen trust through meaningful police reform. Like other post-Soviet states, the Kyrgyz Republic inherited a large police structure that has, since independence, been used to suppress dissent—frequently through the intimidation of opposition politicians, media and civil society. Now, however, the status quo appears to be changing.
One of the key challenges to democracy in the Kyrgyz Republic is corruption in state institutions. Closed-door decision making prevents citizens from holding their leaders accountable. Although former President Roza Otunbaeva sought to combat this problem by establishing public councils in state bodies, the sustainability of these independent, diverse citizen oversight groups was unsure because the decree could be reversed by any future president.
Hearings on the local government budget were held earlier this year for the first time in three local government units, or aiyl okmotus, in the Nookat district of Osh province in the Kyrgyz Republic. Over 200 villagers and three officially recognized “initiative groups” representing nine communities—three from each AO—actively participated in the open budget hearings, and proposed priorities, amendments and additions for the 2014 annual budget.
The judicial system in Kyrgyzstan has long been viewed as a minor player among the more powerful branches of government. Staff turnover is so high that 70 percent of personnel have been with the judicial system for less than five years. Employees work in inadequate conditions and an estimated 90 percent of court buildings are in dire disrepair. Kyrgyzstan’s citizens also report a low regard for the judiciary.
Not long ago, Ramil*, now 19, was one of nearly 11,000 children who grow up in orphanages and boarding schools in the Kyrgyz Republic. Many are required to leave at the age of 15 to 17 because of official regulations. Having to adjust to a new life with limited support, some end up on the streets—a life Ramil knew all too well.
Last updated: December 15, 2014