Equal Before the Law

2011 - 2014

Equal Before the Law: Access to Justice in Central Asia (EBL) enhanced and safeguarded the rights of vulnerable people in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. A flagship program of the Wider Europe Initiative of the Finnish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, EBL was jointly implemented by EF and its partner foundation, Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia.

From 2011 to 2014, EBL made legal representation more readily available for vulnerable populations in Central Asia, especially rural women, at-risk youth, and persons with disabilities. In each country, hub non-governmental organizations provided training and consultation to a broad network of grassroots organizations, community leaders, and governmental officials. The program offered pro bono legal services and supported the establishment of legal clinics at universities as well as government-sponsored legal aid centers. Through a small grants program, EBL spearheaded public awareness campaigns on access to justice issues such as LGBTQ rights and violence against children.

EBL produced significant results in increasing citizens’ demand for justice in rural areas and in raising the practical knowledge of government and civil society representatives responsible for the protection of vulnerable groups. EBL also raised the visibility and profile of access to justice issues on the national reform agendas of each country, resulting in tangible expansion and improvement in the quality of legal services for citizens in need in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan. The program worked to bring national legislation and practices across the three countries in line with international standards. EBL provided commentary on new legal aid legislation in Kazakhstan and Tajikistan and offered actionable steps to the government of Kyrgyzstan to improve compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Through EBL, more than 1,700 civil society leaders and government representatives received training and support. In addition, EBL supported nearly 550 court cases on behalf of vulnerable people and held over 40,000 legal consultations across the region.

To learn about the impact of EBL’s work, watch this video: