Legal Aid Helps Families Displaced by Growth in Kyrgyz Republic

Legal consultation for resident in Osh.
An Interbilim lawyer, right, consults with an Osh resident regarding fair compensation for property.
Initial offers of demolished property compensation fell short
“The Department of Municipal Property claimed more land than what was indicated in the initial agreement. I was in a panic and didn’t know what to do."

In late April 2012, the mayor of Osh, Kyrgyzstan, issued a resolution to extend Monuev Street by 480 meters—which would displace 22 houses in the process. On May 22, Osh’s chief architect announced the plan to local media and informed them of ongoing community meetings and housing appraisals to compensate those to be affected by the city development efforts.

Initial compensation from the city amounted to only 20 percent to 30 percent of the market value, and relocation of residents to empty land lots 14 kilometers away from the city center with no services such as water and electricity, with very small funds to build their own houses. Distraught residents sent letters to the Osh City Council and the country's president and prime minister expressing concern over the unfair compensation.

“After the events of 2010, many residents of Osh lost confidence in local authorities and did not want to get into quarrels with the mayor’s office,” says a Monuev Street resident. These feelings were heightened when the city entered into eminent domain negotiations with local residents of streets set to be demolished.

From August 2012 to March 2013, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives responded by supporting the NGO Interbilim to provide free legal advice to the affected residents or business owners on Monuev and other streets in Osh.

The lawyers consulted more than 100 residents on issues related to land plot compensation rates and calculations, property rights and appeal procedures to local government entities.

“At first it was hard because people did not fully trust us. [They] did not know what to do and who to turn to,” said Ulan Seyitbekov, a legal consultant with Interbilim. “The city officials, too, were suspicious and negative .... They asked us why we were here and ... how the population would benefit from our job,” he continued. “Despite the difficulties, [we] won the trust of residents day by day.”

“The Department of Municipal Property claimed more land than what was indicated in the initial agreement. I was in a panic and didn’t know what to do. But lawyers assisted me, so I could receive an additional 284,000 soms .... Now I feel calm. Thank you to all who helped me to solve this problem,” said Khaticha Razikova, a resident of Ak-Burinskaya Street in Osh.

Acknowledging the NGO's role in the project, the Osh mayor’s office worked with Interbilim to coordinate demolition and resettlement decisions. The municipality also requested Interbilim’s help to draft Regulations on Confiscation of Land for State and Municipal Needs.

“This regulation did not exist before,” said Nusratillo Ahmedov, a legal consultant with Interbilim. “We have drafted and submitted it for consideration and approval.” As of October 2013, the regulation was still pending with the City Council.