The International Program – Kyrgyzstan

June 23, 2006

Guests:

AKMATOV BOLOTBEK, Chief, Inter-District Court, Osh Region RUSTAM MADALIEV, Head, Sector on Judicial Bodies of the Legal Department, Presidential Executive Office of the Kyrgyz Republic SYDYKOVA SVETLANA, Chairman, Moskovsky District Court, Chui Oblast

The Kyrgyzstani officials were participating in a three-week study tour, during which time they would be introduced to several culturally and geographically diverse regions of the U.S., beginning with the nation’s capital. The stated goals of this program were, in part, to “promote an appreciation for the rule of law, judicial ethics and the advancement of a fair, transparent, accessible and independent judiciary,” and to gain a deeper understanding of democracy in the U.S. Their visit to the U.S. was administered by Delphi’s International Program of World Learning on behalf of the Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program. Mr. Chris Farrell, Judicial Watch’s director of research and investigations, was invited to meet with these distinguished international visitors to discuss the role of a nonpartisan, non-governmental organization in promoting ethics, transparency, and accountability in the government and judiciary. Mr. Farrell provided an overview of Judicial Watch’s mission and its inception in 1994 as a government watchdog group—and the notoriety it gained for its dogged pursuit of the numerous corruption scandals during the Clinton administration. He explained that it was, however, during the Bush administration that JW earned its reputation for being “fiercely non-partisan” when it pursued the current administration with

equal tenacity as it did the former, and, in particular, Vice President Cheney's Energy Task Force. In fact, Judicial Watch pursued its case against the Cheney Energy

Task Force all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court for allegedly holding closed door meetings with top energy officials, as reported by the media, in the formulation of America’s national energy policy. Mr. Farrell also discussed another facet of Judicial Watch’s mission in exposing corruption through the representation of government whistleblowers—individuals who have courageously reported gross government misconduct to their superiors, only to be faced with cunning bureaucratic-style retaliation. To illustrate, Mr. Farrell detailed the lawsuit Judicial Watch filed on behalf of Linda Shenwick, who was at that time a counselor for resource management at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. As an expert on finance and management issues, she exposed numerous instances of waste, fraud, and abuse at the United Nations. Her whistle blowing was met with retaliation from her superiors, and she was eventually fired. Judicial Watch exposed this injustice to the American people and represented Ms. Shenwick in court, as well as other venues, to bring about an equitable resolution on her behalf. Ms. Shenwick was vindicated and is, today, back at work for the same agency from which she had been unjustly terminated. Mr. Farrell closed the session by discussing the Judicial Financial Disclosure Project, one of the more recent educational tools employed by Judicial Watch. Although the Ethics and Government Act of 1978 requires all federal judges to file yearly financial disclosure statements, lack of public awareness and the amount of time it takes to obtain the reports did not serve the purpose for which the law was created. Judicial Watch has therefore placed all federal judges financial disclosure reports on its Internet site, easily accessible to the public, at no cost. The necessity and appropriateness of disclosing judicial officers’ financial reports to the public was questioned by the visitors. Mr. Farrell explained that the information judicial officers are required to provide is of a general nature and that which would allow checks for potential conflicts of interest in court cases. He emphasized that federal judges are public servants and must be held accountable to the public they serve.

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