UNODC and the Chamber of Advocates Sign Joint Work Plan to Strengthen the Legal Profession in Uzbekistan

On 28 September 2020, Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative to Central Asia, met with Mr. Alim Ernazarov, the Chairman of the Chamber of Advocates, to sign a joint workplan and discuss ongoing efforts to strengthen the legal profession in Uzbekistan.

UNODC has been supporting an expert working group tasked with developing a strategic concept for the development of the bar association. In partnership with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the International Commission of Jurists, UNODC provided expert advice during the development of this strategy, which is awaiting government approval. A new Law on the advokatura to regulate the legal profession and ensure independence of the bar association is also planned.

Ms. Ashita Mittal confirmed UNODC’s commitment to continue supporting the ongoing Bar reform process in Uzbekistan within the scope of UNODC’s mandate to promote the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, The UN Principles and Guidelines on Access to Legal Aid in Criminal Justice Systems and other relevant standards.

“Defense lawyers play a crucial role in the protection of human rights. Justice cannot be fully served without a system of legal aid that protects the most vulnerable groups of population”, Ms. Ashita Mittal highlighted.

Mr. Ernazarov emphasized the importance of regional collaboration between the legal community in Central Asia and pledged support for related initiatives that could be supported by UNODC. In this regard, UNODC recently published the Russian version of its Handbook on Ensuring Quality of Legal Aid Services in Criminal Justice Processes, which provides practical guidance on measures to establish quality legal aid services within the national legal aid system. This tool is of relevance to Uzbekistan given that a draft Law on free legal aid is currently under consideration.

As part of an ongoing criminal justice reform process, Uzbekistan has embarked on the task of reforming the Chamber of Advocates through legislative changes that are expected to provide for autonomy of the Chamber and improvement of its management capacity to independently regulate the legal profession and protect human rights. With UNODC support, a new Criminal Procedure Code is also under development, which is geared towards ensuring equality of arms and a strengthen role of legal defense in the criminal process.

UNODC assists the Government of Uzbekistan in the implementation of criminal justice reform through capacity building activities for national institutions as well as expert advice with support from the United States Department of State's Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs.


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