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The Increased Use of 'Reconciliation' in Criminal Cases in Central Asia: A Sign of Restorative Justice, Reform or Cause for Concern?

76 Pages Posted: 18 Jul 2012  

Cynthia Alkon

Texas A&M University School of Law

Date Written: 2007


Legal professionals in Central Asia increasingly support and use alternative procedures, primarily “reconciliation” in criminal prosecutions. In recent years Central Asian legislatures passed laws supporting the use of this alternative procedure. Many professionals within the criminal justice system, notably police officers and prosecutors, advocate the increased use of alternatives to prosecution. Yet, the personal and institutional interests of these stakeholders in the use of reconciliation directly conflict with the needs and interests of crime victims and criminal defendants. From the perspective of western restorative justice experts, the countries of Central Asia have turned the values of the restorative justice movement on their head. The resulting process reinforces the weaknesses and abuses of the dysfunctional criminal systems in which the alternative process must operate.

This article focuses on reconciliation in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. This article briefly examines the history, economies, governments, and legal systems in these four Central Asian countries. For comparison, this article briefly examines the development of alternatives to criminal prosecution in western nations, primarily the United States. This article describes in some detail the legal framework and practice of reconciliation in each of the four countries.

The article concludes with an analysis of the problems the reconciliation process creates as it is currently practiced in Central Asia including the significant risks to vulnerable victims and to defendants. This discussion points to the types of reforms required to conform reconciliation processes in Central Asia to the values of restorative justice identified by western countries. Finally, the article concludes that the international community and policymakers in the four countries analyzed should not view the increased use of reconciliation as a sign of reform or improvement in the administration of their criminal justice systems. Instead, these observers should exercise great caution when discussing the expanded use of reconciliation as an alternative to criminal prosecutions in Central Asia. In current practice, the use of reconciliation fails to protect victims, fails to protect defendants’ rights, and provides additional opportunities for prosecutorial, judicial, and police corruption.

Suggested Citation

Alkon, Cynthia, The Increased Use of 'Reconciliation' in Criminal Cases in Central Asia: A Sign of Restorative Justice, Reform or Cause for Concern? (2007). Pepperdine Dispute Resolution Law Journal, Vol. 8, No. 3, p. 41, 2007. Available at SSRN:

Cynthia Alkon (Contact Author)

Texas A&M University School of Law ( email )

1515 Commerce Street
Fort Worth, TX 76102
United States

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