Constitution, law and law enforcement in Kyrgyzstan
In every country, before coming, you’re warned about respecting the local law and about obeying all the rules, even you don’t have them in your country. For a tourist it’s important to know what he is allowed to do and from what he should abstain in order to have a nicer trip. Also, respecting some tradition is essential because there are traditions perceived by people as law – the unwritten law. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll summarize the most important, the must-know laws of this country.
WHAT KIND OF STATE IS KYRGYZSTAN?
When people plan to go to a country with 85% Muslim population, one of the first questions they have are: “is that a fundamentalist or a democratic state?” or “which is role of the religion in state construction?” Well, according to the Kyrgyz Constitution of 2010, Kyrgyzstan is a sovereign, democratic and secular state, governed by the rule of law (Art. 1 par. (1)) and the 7th article confirms once more this aspect: “religion and all cults shall be separated from the state”. However, even though the Islam doesn’t play a basic role in the state organization, within the society, its role is very important and sometimes it’s perceived as moreover compulsory than even the state law. The Constitution of Kyrgyzstan substantiates a traditional democratic state, provides the fundamental rights and proclaims the equality between all the citizens. More, for the foreigners, the supreme law provides the same treatment (with the exception of strictly political rights and obligation as the right to vote or the right to be elected). The state institutions include some modern institutions as that of Ombudsman or the Chamber of accounts. The laws suspected to be in disaccord with the constitution are controlled by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, fact that represents a mix of American and European influence in the law system. However, it should be stressed that the Kyrgyz law system remains part of the civil law (Romano-Germanic) supra system.
WHAT YOU MAY DO AND WHAT YOU MAY NOT
Even though the punishments in Kyrgyzstan are not big (the maximum is 15 years in prison for killing), the penal code and other penal laws incriminate some deeds that in some parts of the world are legal. Both drug traffic and drug consumption are criminal deeds. Marijuana is considered drug so, its consumption and dealing obey the same rule of law. Legal in some countries of Europe, prostitution is incriminated in Kyrgyzstan and is considered as being a major problem especially because of the STI’s spreading. In this context, the general opinion is in favor to tighten the criminal liability in this domain. As for alcohol and tobacco, they are both legal, but selling is allowed only to persons older than 18 years (the sellers may ask you to present a document if they’re in doubt about your age). In public spaces, only tobacco consumption is allowed, so, if you’re caught by police drinking in public, it’s very possible you’ll have to pay a fine. Legally you can smoke almost everywhere in public spaces, on the other side, there are some bars/restaurants where smoking is not allowed (or it’s allowed only in the smokers’ lounge). Fighting is severely punished, in every case the penalty consist in arrest or imprisonment with the notable exceptions of the excess of self-defending and blows causing less damage (however, for these criminal deeds still exists the possibility of imprisonment). Another interesting fact about Kyrgyz law can be the regime of the abortion: for example here a married woman needs the consent of her husband and for pregnant minors he consent of the both parents is required. Coercion of a woman into marriage or preventing from marriage is another “exotic” rule of law from the penal code. It’s interesting that this article, the legislator considered a crime only the deed against a woman, this being an example of national influence in law – especially in the past parents used to force the daughters to marry a man of their choosing. Another example of specific law is found in 123rd article of the penal code, referring to kidnapping. In this article, the legislator uses the formulation “Kidnapping against the will of the kidnapped person” – or in European law, it is a pleonastic formulation, as it’s a non sequitur to kidnap someone with his/her consent.
PRACTICES CONTRA LEGEM
As everywhere, in Kyrgyzstan it happens sometimes that law doesn’t work properly and it appears a difference between the law and the reality. In Kyrgyzstan the level of corruption is really high, this being a determinant factor of the poverty of the country. Bribery also makes many things not work, the first being the law. Giving a bribe instead of paying a full fine is common even among tourists. Another important couple of contra legem practices is found in the road traffic: often the pedestrian’s semaphore is not respected, the speed limits and illegal parking are also common problems in this topic. That is why, even the law protects you against this kind of abuses, it’s really needed to be careful.