Ahead of the 76th session of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child in September 2017, where Tajikistan’s official report for 2010-2015 will be considered, ADC “Memorial” has submitted to the Committee its report on violations of children’s rights related to the problem of migration.
Labor migration has had an extremely negative effect on the situation of children in Tajikistan. Children of migrant workers who stay behind in Tajukistan are separated from their parents and may not see them for years, they are often neglected by other relatives, drop out of school, are subjected to violence, sexual and labor exploitation, and end up in orphanages. Young women also become victims of harmful traditional practices, such as early forced marriages, domestic violence, they also leave school. When their migrant worker husbands find themselves a new family, these young women face divorce and are left without a means of subsistence.
Children who migrate with their parents are also deprived of family care and nurturing (their parents work all day), live in terrible conditions, do not receive an education (since Russia’s strict migration policy also applies to children), and risk separation from their parents if their parents are found to have violated the migration regime, which in some cases even has lead to death of children. (In its report ADC “Memorial” describes the case of the death of Umarali Nazarov, which is being pursued in court by ADC “Memorial” in collaboration with the lawyers.)
Frequently, mothers who are migrant workers and have fallen on hard times abandon their children in Russia and leave them in orphanages. Later, these children are repatriated to Tajikistan and placed in orphanages there. The report describes the problem of violation of the principle of the best interests of the child, when children are removed from the guardianship or foster family in Russia and sent to orphanages in Tajikistan (as in the case of infant Mikhail Yegorov, who had been adopted by a Russian family, but then had been taken from the new family and repatriated to Tajikistan).
The report of ADC “Memorial” also examines problems faced by children from the Mugat (Djugi or Lyuli) ethnic minority. Members of this group frequently continue their past migratory lifestyle, including to earn a living both within Tajikistan and abroad. Typical problems of this community include the situation of structural discrimination, lack of education, extreme poverty, unemployment, life in unregistered homes with the constant risk of demolition of these homes and evictions, as well harmful traditional practices (early arranged marriages, polygamy, exploitation of children, begging activity) and multi-discrimination of women and girls. One of the unresolved problems of Mugat minority is that they are undocumented.
In its recommendations ADC “Memorial” calls on the Tajikistan authorities to properly respond to violations of the rights of migrant children in Russia; to demand that Russia respects the rights of children of migrants from Tajikistan, including an immediate end to the practice of the separation of children and parents in case of detention and deportation; to insist on a fair investigation of the death of Umarali Nazarov; to observe the principle of the best interests of the child in cases when children are left by their mothers – labor migrants from Tajikistan and are placed in foster families in Russia, where they are brought up in favorable conditions; not to take away children from foster parents (as it has happened with Mikhail Yegorov); to adopt and implement a national program of comprehensive support to Mugat (Djugi or Lyuli) ethnic minority, paying particular attention to ensuring the rights of children; to intensify efforts to support girls in their attempts to get education; to take measures for the social rehabilitation of young women – victims of harmful traditional practices, including creation of alternative educational opportunities for girls and adult women, who had previously dropped out of school; to provide for orphanages and boarding schools (especially those for girls) access to the complete 11-year education; to take additional measures to support graduates of orphanages and boarding schools in getting higher education.
Alternative information on Tajikistan’s implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child in connection with the review of the state report for 2010–2015 by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child