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Majlis Podcast: Lawyers In Central Asia -- Defending Clients And Themselves


A court in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, where lawyers often come under fierce pressure from the authorities. (file photo)

January 24 was the Day of the Endangered Lawyer and an opportunity to remember the many problems some Central Asian attorneys have to face.

In Central Asia, defendants have a right to an attorney, but state-appointed defenders have a reputation for half-hearted work or, in some cases, even supporting the prosecution in convicting their clients.

Being an independent lawyer willing to defend people who for some reason or another are looked upon as a nuisance or threat by the governments of the region is a hazardous occupation.

Some of these attorneys are intimidated or threatened, some are attacked, and some are imprisoned.

On this week's Majlis podcast, RFE/RL media-relations manager Muhammad Tahir moderates a discussion on the plight of lawyers in Central Asia.

This week's guests are: Madina Akhmetova, the director of the Dignity public association based in the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan; from Washington, Jasmine Cameron, who is originally from Kyrgyzstan but is now a senior staff attorney at the Human Rights Center of the American Bar Association; from California, Steve Swerdlow, a longtime Central Asia watcher, recently returned from Uzbekistan, and human rights lawyer who is currently an associate professor of human rights at the University of Southern California; and from Prague, Bruce Pannier, the author of the Qishloq Ovozi blog.

Lawyers In Central Asia: Defending Clients And Themselves
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Listen to the podcast above or subscribe to the Majlis on iTunes or on Google Podcasts.

About This Blog

Qishloq Ovozi is a blog by RFE/RL Central Asia specialist Bruce Pannier that aims to look at the events that are shaping Central Asia and its respective countries, connect some of the dots to shed light on why those processes are occurring, and identify the agents of change.

Bruce Pannier
Bruce Pannier

Content draws on the extensive knowledge and contacts of RFE/RL's Central Asian services but also allow scholars in the West, particularly younger scholars who will be tomorrow’s experts on the region, opportunities to share their views on the evolving situation at this Eurasian crossroad.

The name means "Village Voice" in Uzbek. But don't be fooled, Qishloq Ovozi is about all of Central Asia.

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