Defense Lawyer Day in Tajikistan Date in the current year: May 26, 2024

Defense Lawyer Day in Tajikistan Defense Lawyer Day, also known as Defense Attorney Day or Advocate Day, is an official professional holiday in Tajikistan celebrated on May 26. It honors all lawyers that provide qualified legal assistance to individuals and legal entities to protect their rights, freedoms and legitimate interests.

Defense lawyers occupy a special place in any legal system, because they not only protect the rights and freedoms of people, but also strengthen the rule of law in the state. In Tajikistan, the right to legal defense is guaranteed by Article 19 of the state constitution, and Article 92 of the Constitution of Tajikistan guarantees legal assistance at all stages of investigation and trial.

However, Tajikistan did not have a central professional association for defense attorneys until 2015. Of course, various law firms and lawyer associations began to emerge in Tajikistan right after the country’s independence, but different associations had different requirements for candidates and rules for admission to practice as attorney.

In 2015, the Supreme Assembly of the Republic of Tajikistan adopted a law regulating the professional activity of defense attorneys, including the legal framework of their practice, as well as the rights and obligations of defense lawyers. According to the law, the Union of Lawyers of Tajikistan replaced all previously existing bar associations.

The main goal of the new law was to create a unified professional association for the country’s defense attorneys, standardize legal documents, and establish clear requirements for admission to practice. For example, the law stipulates that only citizens of Tajikistan with a higher legal education who speak the state language and are members of the Union of Lawyers of Tajikistan are allowed to practice law.

Initially, the new law implied positive changes in Tajikistan’s legal system. However, amendments introduced several months after the adoption of the law made the work of defense attorneys more difficult. For example, the Qualification Committee responsible for conducting bar examinations and issuing attorney licenses is subordinate not to the Union of Lawyers, but to the Ministry of Justice, which opens the door to corruption.

Human rights organizations and Tajikistan lawyers have repeatedly emphasized that the Qualification Committee is far from being as objective and impartial as it is supposed to be, and that the Union of Lawyers, which was conceived as an independent professional association, is too dependent on the government and de facto controlled by it.

Besides, the aforementioned amendments reduced the number of licenses issued to criminal defense attorneys and forced all lawyers, regardless of their work experience, to retake the qualification exam. As a result, the number of licensed defense attorneys in Tajikistan has decreased by more than half. According to a report by Amnesty International, there were only about 600 criminal defense lawyers in the country as of 2017, or one lawyer per 13,000 citizens.

Because of this, Defense Lawyer Day in Tajikistan is not only the professional holiday of the country’s defense attorneys, but also a sad reminder of the challenges that Tajikistan lawyers face on a daily basis.

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