Lately, a lot of my work with the Central Asia team has been focused on Kyrgyzstan (and I think that was the first time I've ever spelled it right on the first try). IDLO has a joint project with USAID (U.S. Agency for International Development) called "USAID-IDLO Judicial Strengthening Program" - JSP for short. Kyrgyzstan’s judiciary has been unable to meet the country’s changing needs for fair dispute resolution; the process is often rift with corruption and a lack of respect for the judicial system. This program is designed to strengthen the rule of law by decreasing corruption, supporting judicial independence, improving the judicial personnel system and internal judicial management, and restoring judicial integrity by increasing public access to and management of judicial information. Basically, all things meant to strengthen the Kyrgyz judiciary.
Recently, we found out that we were chosen to help produce a reality TV program in Kyrgyzstan. This might seem silly at first, but lack of respect for court room decorum is a huge problem in Kyryzstan. Judges and other courtroom actors have been unable to control disruptions that occur during contentious high profile trials - this includes throwing shoes at the judges! The threatening and intimidating atmosphere in court room settings makes impartiality an impossibility, denigrating the role of the judge and reducing public confidence in the system.
To this end, we will pilot a reality TV program based on proper judicial procedures and mediation to encourage full resolution of common types of disputes. This concept has been popular in the United States for many years, as demonstrated by my love for Judge Judy. By using an entertaining medium, a TV program can help educate the Kyrgz public on their rights and proper courtroom behavior.
The goal is to encourage improved conduct and respect for rights of participants in judicial proceedings and also help shift public expectations. I think this reality TV program is a brilliant way to reach the people of Kyrgzstan, and I have no doubt it will be successful.