ASTANA – Requirements for judges were revised recently by the Kazakh Supreme Court with due consideration of five institutional reforms of President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The new standards were sent to the National Modernisation Commission for further review.
The prerequisites of candidate training include a master’s degree in law from the Institute of Justice, a Kazakh language test similar to the one used for A Corps civil servants and a compulsory internship. Other exams and psychological tests would need to be passed after the practicum. A proposed one-year period in the courts when the individual would perform the duties of an assistant judge would be followed by a second twelve months of training including interning in regional courts.
“The Supreme Court was persuaded of requirements for specialised training, which will make sufficient improvement of future judges’ qualification possible. It is necessary to develop separate state standards for training of judge candidates in order to improve the practical aspect of the training,” said chairman of the supervisory board on Supreme Court criminal cases Abai Rakhmetullin, according to the Azattyq radio website.
The Supreme Court has offered to address the issue of professional valuation of judges’ activities once every five years for those who have less than 15 years of work experience, he added.
All the changes would provide proximity and openness of the courts and improve the quality of the defence of rights and legal interests of citizens and legal bodies, noted Supreme Court Judge of the supervisory judicial division on civil and administrative cases Nurzhan Kayipzhan, as reported by Azattyq.
Former Supreme Court Judge Utegen Ikhstanov agreed with Kayipzhan’s statement that judges must be examined, but noted it is necessary to think about the independence of Kazakh courts. He indicated district judges were elected by the people in Soviet times and suggested the importance of reinstituting the practice.
“We need to provide real independence of the courts. They have it under the Constitution, but it isn’t developed in practice. Courts have to be governed only by legislation. Also, junior judges have low salaries and very low retiring pensions, which are several times lower than the low retiring pensions of police and public prosecution office employees. It is necessary to think of this problem,” he said, as quoted by Azattyq.
Fourteen years ago judges in Kazakhstan were selected as the result of a contest, which was considered to be “a public and multiple stage,” according to Rakhmetullin. Today, Kazakh judges are selected as the result of the qualification examination held by the Institute of Justice of the Academy of Public Administration under the President. After the examinations, candidates are considered by the Supreme Court board.