96% of People Charged with a Crime Find Themselves Guilty Kyrgyz Courts

Kloop’s team were working on a data story that required them to do scraping of more than 26 thousand court decisions in not-machine-readable pdf format from the court department web site. This involves not only scraping the data and advanced techniques of data cleaning such as Open Refine and Regular Expressions, which fellows learn on the go, but also a detailed understanding of how the judicial system works.

According to their findings published on December 7, 2018, 96% of people who charged with crime find themselves guilty sanctioned by Kyrgyz courts. Exceptions from this rule apply only to state officials though. The story was viewed more than 3,000 times on Kloop’s website with 309 likes and 121 shares, leading to a discussion among readers, who expressed their dissatisfaction about the country’s judicial system.

On January 22, Internews in Kyrgyzstan hosted a public discussion of this data-driven publication. The event gathered 43 journalists and activists, with 743 unique viewers who watched the event via live streaming on Facebook, to discuss the data fellows’ findings. The findings revealed that 96% of people charged with a crime in the Kyrgyz Republic are found guilty by Kyrgyz courts. Exceptions of this rule seem to apply only to state officials.

Event participants were able to ask questions about the publication’s authors as well as the invited guests: Tokon Mamytov, the country’s ombudsman, and Rita Karasartova, a prominent human rights defender. The ombudsman agreed to review the findings in order to include them in his annual report for the Parliament. Disappointingly, none of the invited judges showed up for the discussion.