A nongovernmental organization (NGO) in Kyrgyzstan has achieved an initial victory in its long-term effort to push for more transparency in parliament.
The Coalition for Democracy and Civil Society last month won the second of two court cases it filed against Kyrgyzstan’s parliament, the Jogorku Kenesh. A June 7 ruling in Bishkek required members of parliament (MPs) to provide details of their business trips to shed light on how they were using publicly-funded transportation benefits. In an earlier case, filed in February and resolved on May 11, the Bishkek inter-district court ruled that the parliament was required to provide detailed attendance records for each member. The coalition is one of NDI’s main civic partners in Kyrgyzstan and one of the country’s top government watchdog organizations.
The June 7 court case stemmed from concern over how MPs were using state-financed cars and drivers. Although the cars were intended to aid constituent outreach, no information was available to verify that practice. The case was postponed twice, in part because parliament claimed it was too busy to respond to the coalition’s inquiries about business trips.
Kyrgyzstan has long been plagued by corruption, even since the 2010 revolution that overthrew autocratic President Kurmanbek Bakiyev and ushered in a period of democratic reform.
Recent focus groups and public opinion research conducted by NDI and the coalition suggest that corruption in all branches of government, and particularly the judicial system, is still a major concern for citizens. A recent story on Kyrgyzstan’s KG 24 online news reported that in polygraph tests conducted among 110 civil servants, 79 percent were not able to pass the test when asked whether they received illegal income.
Both rulings are a major step toward building a more transparent and accountable parliament, according to Dinara Oshurakhunova, coalition president.
On August 13, a third hearing was held where the Inter-Rayon court of Bishkek required the Parliament of the Kyrgyz Republic to provide the coalition with information on their actual salaries.
“We hope the court decisions will set a precedent for all citizens and MPs to improve voter access to information on the activity of the parliament,” said Oshurakhunova.
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Published August 6, 2012
Updated August 15, 2012