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; 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.