Teaching Uzbek Prosecutors and Legal Professionals about the Right to a Fair Trial

This autumn, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) is delivering a series of training sessions on the ‘Right to a Fair Trial’ course held at Uzbekistan’s Academy of the General Prosecutor’s Office.

The Academy is an Uzbek educational and research institution, which seeks to organise an effective system of training and re-training of employees in the prosecutor’s office. In these sessions, Uzbek prosecutors and legal professionals learned about the independence and impartiality of the judiciary, the right to a fair and public hearing, as well as the right to be presumed innocent. These lectures will also be accompanied by pedagogical workshops for the Academy staff, who will also teach classes in the MA programme on human rights run by the Academy. 

RWI’s cooperation with the Academy 

The collaboration with the Academy reflects the recent momentum in Uzbekistan to support human rights education for Uzbek prosecutors. These developments include a positive trend in the development of new priorities on the training of prosecutors in knowledge and skills to comprehensively protect the rule of law. 

The collaboration was initiated in late 2020 thanks to the support of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The collaboration’s first results were RWI’s review of the Academy’s draft of Curriculum on the master’s degree programme on ‘Human Rights’, as well as this training course on the right to a fair trial. 

Uygun Nigmadjanov, Deputy Director of the Academy, commented on this collaboration:  

‘The collaboration with the RWI team of academic practitioners provides an opportunity not only to enrich teaching and experience in international human rights law, but also to shape new thinking about human rights in the people’s prosecutor’s office based on universally recognized values.’ 

Zamira Borsieva, Head of International Cooperation Department of the Academy, commented on the value this collaboration with RWI has given the Academy Masters programme: 

‘The approach to working with students, as well as directly and with teachers on human teaching methods, influenced not only the quality of the course, but also increase the ability of teachers.’ 

 RWI’s global engagement with the justice sector on human rights 

The engagement with the Academy builds on RWI’s extensive experience in designing and delivering human rights programmes in the justice sector in multiple contexts and backgrounds. This includes engagement with prosecution services and delivering human rights and methodologies for human rights education and criminal justice. Based on trust and cooperation, RWI seeks to create lasting and sustainable human rights change as a long-term process. It also builds on previous engagement of RWI in the region. There is more information here, if you would like to learn more on RWI’s activities in Uzbekistan. 

Josh Ounsted, Head of Thematic Area Fair and Efficient Justice at RWI, comments: 

‘RWI has been working with human rights education and training in the justice sector for the past three decades, developing and delivering programmes for actors ranging from law students to supreme court judges, from police officers to prison directors. 

We have worked for many years with prosecutors under our programmes in China in particular, and welcome the opportunity now to cooperate closely with the Academy in Uzbekistan to create customised courses that integrate international human rights law and standards into national prosecutor training’

First reflections from the lectures  

The training sessions are delivered by Prof. Lyal Sunga, who has been working closely with RWI after decades of experience in the field of law and human rights. Prof. Sunga is a former Head of the ‘Rule of Law’ programme at the Hague Institute for Global Justice in the Netherlands and former Special Advisor on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law at the International Development Law Organisation in Rome, Italy.  

Prof. Sunga is now delivering the lectures for the course on the right to a fair trial based on the syllabus developed in 2020. This syllabus was designed to not only to further the education of these prosecutors, but to also transfer practical and hands on skills; bringing in case simulations and exercises, which also have links to United Nations sources and other organisations, in both English and Russian. 


The importance of the right to a fair trial for rule of law in Uzbekistan 

These training sessions offer an opportunity for prosecutors to fill in gaps and make sure that they are up to date on all aspects of the right to a fair trial. Prof. Sunga comments: 

‘In an even larger perspective, Uzbekistan of course is made conscious and outspoken political effort to move away from post-Soviet isolation and to increase its interaction in the international community and to boost investor confidence and hopefully to assure people inside and outside of the spectrum of Uzbekistan that the judiciary is independent and impartial.

So, with all these aspects, it is really very key to the present and future health of the country and its integration in the international community for so many points of view,’ 

The right to a fair trial is also key to human rights work as such. It concerns the overwhelming power and authority of state over the life, liberty, property, wellbeing and enjoyment of human rights. In his view, the right to a fair trial ensures that the overall power and authority of the state and its responsibility to enforce criminal law is not misused, or poorly used, or abused in a way that violates the rights of individuals who come into contact with the criminal justice system. 

In Prof. Sunga’s view, by increasing trust in the judiciary and prosecutorial actors, it will strengthen the rule of law, which will in turn strengthen democracy, a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory system with a high level of accountability, including state actors. For Prof. Sunga, strengthening the elements involved in the right to a fair trial will strengthen all these interdependent elements of society.  

Integrating Human Rights principles in the pedagogy 

Prof. Sunga also discussed the teaching techniques he has adopted over decades of experience in training and teaching in over 50 countries. One of them, is not ‘so much to just go through substantive material’, as it is difficult for the participants to absorb the content over a fairly limited period of time. Prof. Sunga explaining:  

‘It is much more effective, that it be highly interactive, which takes a bit of courage because you never know where the discussion is going to go and you have to be quite on the ball, both the participants and the instructor.’  

In Prof. Sunga’s view, this approach allows the participants in the sessions to exercise their on-the-spot thinking and their critical faculties, in order to able to identify issues in a critical manner. Sunga highlights the importance of checking whether the participants have understood the substance laid out, in order to facilitate class discussion.

By creating a safe space in the sessions, Prof. Sunga hopes to empower all the participants to take part in the case studies, simulations and moot courts. In his view, the more participants feel empowered, the more they will start to take what they learn in the sessions and test them out in the real world. This pedagogical approach generates moments of explorations of more nuanced topics or events.  

Feedback on the training sessions by students and teachers of the Academy 

‘The applied practice-oriented and problem-oriented approach in teaching was very effective in the course of training the trainees. Undoubtedly, a practical concept based on the professional approach of the lecturer, especially the ability to combine the presentation of theoretical concepts with practical examples have helped achieve the goals and objectives of the course.

A student-oriented approach, attention to the personal experience of the listener, and the constant involvement of students are especially interesting from the point of view of teaching methods.The quality of the materials, the recommended literature, the quality and approach within the framework of the case developed for the simulation exercise are also of interest to me,’    –  Zamira Borsieva 

What skills did you learn from these session? 

Sayfullaev Shavkat Abdisamat, a participant in the training sessions and a Masters student in the International Law on Human Rights said that:  

‘This course helped them gain knowledge in comparative analysis of international and national courts, learn skills in the interpretation of international legal norms, and how to develop proposals that ensure administration of justice in our national judicial system.’ 

What skills on Human Rights did you obtain from this training which can be useful in your future job as a prosecutor? 

‘The course has served to increase my view on what role prosecutors can play in protecting the rights of citizens and promote human rights’

– Bakiev Saidsulton Muhtorovich, participant of these training sessions and a Masters student in International Human Rights law. 

The skills I learnt will serve to increase the affectivity of the prosecutor’s participation in court an, and thus, contributing to the administration of justice’

– Sayfullaev Shavkat Abdisamat

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