OSCE/ODIHR, UNODC and OHCHR Conduct Online Criminal Justice Dialogue in Central Asia

A two-day online expert meeting “Criminal Justice in Central Asia: Recent Developments, Challenges and Impact of COVID -19 pandemic” gathered some 100 policy makers, criminal justice practitioners, civil society and academia from Central Asian countries to discuss the state of criminal justice reforms in the region.

The Criminal Justice Forum is a recurring event, organized every two years by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR/OSCE), together with UNODC, OHCHR and other partners. The Eighth Forum was scheduled to take place in November 2020. However, due to the global pandemic it was postponed to 2021. As such, this online expert meeting served as a bridge between in-person forums.

“Our task goes beyond reforming the judicial system. We must change people’s perceptions of the court system. We must prove that there is access to justice and that trials are fair. People should be able to place their trust in the justice system”, said Mr. Ikrom Muslimov, Deputy Chair of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Uzbekistan.

During the online meeting, participants reviewed the recommendations of the 7th forum held in 2018 in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (read in report). Each country delegation reported on recent developments, achievements and challenges in the area of the rule of law.

Parallel breakout sessions allowed for in-depth discussion on specific issues, such as pre-trial investigations, procedural issues and fair trial standards, as well as new tools in prison management.

A specific session focused on the impact of COVID-19 on the justice sector. “UNODC strongly believes that ensuring access to justice is of paramount importance in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. This requires holistic and inclusive strategies for ensuring the continued functioning of the justice system and equal access to fair, timely, and effective justice services, said Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia.

“There are critical issues related to reducing risks of COVID-19 in prisons and detention centres as well as issues to consider in ensuring access to justice for specific population groups, from access to legal aid and information, to comprehensive services for victims and survivors of violence, to protection of migrants and displaced populations”, Ms. Mittal said (Read an interview with Ms. Ashita on UNODC’s engagement on criminal justice reform in Central Asia here).

Further discussions on regional experiences in the justice sector focused on gender mainstreaming in the judiciary, the development of probation services and the establishment of independent torture investigation mechanisms.

UNODC supported the online meeting within the framework of its Program for Central Asia. This Program assists the Central Asian countries to implement reforms, which increase the application of alternatives to incarceration, promote social reintegration of offenders, place prevention at the heart of the criminal justice system and strengthen a culture of lawfulness for sustainable development.


Эта статья на русском.

For more information, please contact

Vasilina Brazhko (Mrs.)

UNODC Communication and PR Specialist

At +996775987817 (Whats App)

E-mail: vasilina.brazhko[at]un.org