More than 100 policymakers, academics, legal professionals and civil society representatives from across Central Asia highlighted recent reform initiatives, current challenges and the way forward in the region’s criminal justice sector at a two-and-a-half day forum that ended in Almaty on 31 October 2012.
During the Fourth Expert Forum on Criminal Justice for Central Asia, organized by the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) in co-operation with OSCE Centre in Astana and other OSCE field operations in the region, participants noted the centrality of the rule of law to any justice system.
Participants shared their experiences and expertise on a range of issues, including the distinct roles of judges, prosecutors, investigators and the police in the pre-trial phase of criminal cases, and how to ensure that evidence is collected in a fair manner.
“The Forum is a unique opportunity to foster technical dialogue, promote reforms in the region, and strengthen constructive ties amongst legal professionals from the countries of Central Asia” said Benjamin Moreau, Chief of ODIHR’s Rule of Law Unit. “There is no one-size-fits-all criminal justice system for all countries but, when undertaking reforms, it has always proven beneficial to look at and learn from other countries’ experiences.”
Nurlan Abdirov, a Member of the Kazakhstan Parliament, noted that the Forum contributes to enhancing security in Central Asia. “It enables dialogue and an exchange of opinions on how to improve criminal justice systems that allow for greater respect of human rights,” he said.
The Forum – previously held in 2008, 2009 and 2010 – has emerged as a leading regional platform for professional discussion on criminal justice and judicial reform, human rights in criminal procedure, and the harmonization of national legislation with international criminal justice standards.